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CSS font sizes; parody

From: <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Date: Wed, 04 Apr 2001 23:22:33 +0200
Message-Id: <200104042122.f34LMXn23485@zidane.inria.fr>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org


CSS font sizing is heavily dependent on browser and platform. The 
Zeldman's article amounts to a flowchart of what works and what 
doesn't. Design for your audience. But understand what you're getting 
into.

	It must be pointed out that current betas of Windows IE 6 
allow font resizing no matter what, just like Macintosh IE 5 and 
Opera (though the font sizing on the Mac alpha of Opera-- the Mac 
Opera alpha-- needs fixing). Some browsers with no CSS support, like 
the relatively fabulous iCab, allow font resizing. It is likely that 
in six months or so nearly all widely-used browsers will permit font 
resizing. I also personally believe that Netscape 4 is so broken in 
so many ways (even different decimal versions of N4 have different 
bugs!) that it is not worth supporting at all anymore. (The extreme 
adherents of this belief-- subscribers to the To Hell with Bad 
Browsers campaign-- are the vanguard in this respect.)

	And in any event, there is no reason this issue should 
devolve into a sort of jihad or litmus test, where someone (like me) 
who dares espouse a contrary opinion is deemed to know nothing about 
accessibility and all of whose *other* ideas can no longer be 
trusted. Stop acting like antiabortionists, born-again Christians, 
animal-rights activists (of whom actually I am one), or any 
single-issue zealots who string tripwires across people's paths. 
Gloating exclamations of the "See! I knew we couldn't trust him!" 
ain't helping nobody.

	This issue should not devolve because, apart from reading 
convenience for nondisabled people (at best tenuously defined as an 
accessibility issue), font sizing affects low-vision people, *who 
typically use screen-magnification software to blow up EVERYTHING on 
their system*. Browsers' built-in font-sizing mechanisms are 
something of a moot point, if not a complete moot point.

	Further, I haven't written the damn Fonts & Colours or CSS 
chapters of my book yet, and I hope they will contain the most 
comprehensive testing and evaluation of this issue yet devised, with 
plenty of pictures.

	It is too early to pillory me. You haven't seen the final 
book yet. And, I'm sorry, kids, but I have feelings.

	As for the parody <http://www.joeclark.org/book.html#parody> 
: It is an instrument of convenience, really. I intend to do limited 
makeovers of individual pages here and there on different real-world 
sites, but I cannot be bothered negotiating permissions to rework a 
real E-commerce site. I wouldn't do it for free anyway. So my friends 
and I are concocting a site that no one can feel proprietary or 
defensive about ("Hey, man, quit dissing my site!"), that will evoke 
a few laughs, *yet also* will showcase all the standard tropes of 
commercial sites as built by the big Web-design companies.

	Through satire, the item being parodied comes into sharper 
focus. And one must love and embrace a subject to satirize it. (Ask 
Mary Walsh.) Designers can look at the parody site and see exactly 
the sort of devices and features their own sites (or the sites they 
are forced to create against their best judgement) actually have, and 
how they can be made accessible.

	Kynn's crusade for sites that are truly (and preferably 
automatically) adapted for screen-reader compatibility is one that 
other authors, from T.V. Raman to Sam Marshall, have espoused. It is 
not to be discounted, but it is still something of a dream, or 
vapourware. I have six months to write the book. By the time I get to 
the Future Dreams chapter, things may have changed, and there may be 
something real to talk about. But for now, making commercial sites 
accessible is reality. I have different ways of teaching it. I have 
different ways of teaching pretty much everything in accessibility. 
One would think you would support some new blood in the field. (Not 
that I'm new, going back 20 years in accessibility and having been 
online for a decade.)

	And one last thing, everybody: Get it out of your heads that 
beautiful, visually-complex Web sites are somehow immoral or 
improper. Anything can be made accessible. You haven't lived until 
you've watched an excellent film with equally excellent captions and 
audio descriptions. It's not a question of beauty *or* accessibilty. 
I want *both*. I want everything at once. More-moer-more! So does a 
larger swath of the population than many of you might suspect.

	I am going to go back to writing my damn book now. If anyone 
wants to write a countervailing book, I have three contacts at 
competing publishers (my book was the subject of much interest) I can 
hook you up with. Then we can all appear on the same panels and utter 
the magic words "Jane, you ignorant slut" as we disagree with each 
other with smiles plastered on our faces.

- -- 
         Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org
         Author, _Building Accessible Websites_
         (New Riders Publishing, October 2001)
         <http://joeclark.org/book/> | <http://joeclark.org/access/> 
Received on Wednesday, 4 April 2001 17:22:48 GMT

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