W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > April to June 2001

RE: !important

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 10:27:38 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: Frank Tobin <ftobin@uiuc.edu>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 10:08 AM 4/10/2001, Frank Tobin wrote:
>There is an argument, though, that only with more knowledge, may users be
>able to free themselves.

Oh, there's not even an argument about that.  Certainly, nearly any
user who wants to spend time learning web -authoring- in order to
access the web is going to see huge improvements in what they are
able to access.  As another example, if a blind person learns to
read HTML source, they will see a vast improvement in their ability
to access the web.

That point is not in dispute.

The disputed point is whether or not this is a -reasonable- thing to
require for the -task- of simply accessing web pages.

It's not something graphically oriented users need to do -- a user
who can see doesn't need to learn HTML and CSS in order to access
the web.  My grandma doesn't need to take an HTML Writers Guild
course in order to enjoy the Internet.

>In order to effect styles that CSS is capable of accomplishing, users need
>to be able to express what they want to have done in some coherent manner.
>To try to come up with a means for users to express what they want done
>with their personal stylesheets without actually haivng a working of CSS,
>would be, in effect, coming up with a language parallel to CSS.

Actually, no, you just need reasonable "settings" controls in the
browser, and intelligent ways of using those.  Browsers need to be
built so that they don't have "settings" separate from CSS; they need
to speak CSS native and internally but not expose those settings to
the users.  Users should _never_ be confronted with the type of
question presented by IE 5, where it says "What CSS file should I
use?" as the first question.  The functionality of CSS should be
abstracted away from the user; through answering questions and
checking boxes, the user should be able to generate a CSS file that
they never know exists, much in the way various *.INI files are
created without user knowledge of their existence.

So a language shouldn't be necessary at all.

This is why I say the burden should be on the browser makers first,
then on the designers, and rarely -- if ever -- on the end user.

>And given
>that CSS is itself a fairly minimal, simple language for the most
>rudimentary tasks, I think it is a good syntax for users expressing the
>style they want.

Oh, no, it's a terrible thing for giving to users.  It's inconsistent
with most nearly anything else, it's technical, it requires understanding
of HTML concepts while being NOTHING like HTML on a syntax level, and
it's far too complex for most things users are really going to -want-
to do to increase accessibility.

Dialogue boxes are much preferable to direct manipulation of CSS

>Sure, there may be frontends for manipulating a CSS file, but the basic
>notion of how CSS applies to elements, and what elements exist, are fairly
>intrinsic applying CSS effectively.

Yes, that's the problem right there.  To use CSS properly, you have to
understand what HTML is, how it's put together, what elements are,
what attributes are, what selectors are, how the cascade works, etc
etc etc.

That is -too much- to require that someone learn merely to be able to
access the web effectively.  It's too high of a bar for people with
disabilities when the bar does not exist for most other users.

Any purported solution to accessibility problems which _raises_
the bar instead of _lowering_ it is no solution at all!  (This is the
main reason I am displeased with the HUGE learning curve on most
screenreader software, BTW.)


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Technical Developer Liaison
Reef North America
Tel +1 949-567-7006
Received on Tuesday, 10 April 2001 13:20:43 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 13 October 2015 16:21:12 UTC