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what users really want (was Re: Frames & Font Sizes)

From: gregory j. rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2001 16:37:19 -0400
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, "Aaron Smith" <aaron@gwmicro.com>
Message-ID: <CEEMJDFDIKKPEJJLKBKJGEFBCAAA.oedipus@hicom.net>
aloha, aaron!

AS: can someone explain the animosity that people seem to have toward
frames?

GJR: FRAMES definitely _do_ help some users at a priority 1 level, FRAMES
definitely _do_ hinder some users at a priority 1 level, and FRAMES
obviously annoy a whole heap of users...

personally, i'm ambivalent as to the worth of frames, so long as (a) the
FRAMESET (and its individual components) validates; (b) there's valid,
useful, and conscientiously updated content contained in the NOFRAMES
section--such as a duplication of the contents of the navigation frame, for
instance, or a well-structured site map--so that those who either _can't_
use frames, who choose not to use frames, or whose software simply doesn't
support frames can still use the framed site...

as for reasons not to use of frames, you might start at jakob nielson's
useit.com, in particular:

1. "Why Frames Suck (Most of the Time)"
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9612.html
2. "Stylesheets Versus Frames as Web Extensions"
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/styles_vs_frames.html
3. "'Top 10 Mistakes' Revisited (Three Years Later)"
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990502.html

AS: So in this particular instance, it comes down to whether we do what
standards wants us to do, or what our customers want us to do.

GJR: that's not the case at all -- Window-Eyes and other adaptive
technologies aren't colliding with standards, they are colliding with (a)
poor authoring practices; (b) software which either can't or won't
communicate with other software (especially if the third party needs
write-access); and (c) a willingness to accommodate hacks and kludges...

example: adobe's acrobat reader 5 kicks ass for the most part, but it
doesn't let me listen to any of the rebates i download from the web (almost
all of which are exclusively available as PDF), because quote this
document's security settings prevent access unquote...  now, i understand
why the company offering the rebate doesn't want to give me (the individual)
write access to a downloaded rebate, but what about my assistive technology?
an AT may need "write" access to an application's document object model in
order to enable me to review the contents of the protected document, but it
is prevented from obtaining them due to the method employed to digitally
ensure the integrity of the rebate...  shouldn't such an impasse have
occurred to someone during the developmental process?  if ATs need to be
digitally certified in order to access an application's document object
model (and in the case of acrobat 5, they do), then shouldn't that
certification also exempt them from simply repeating "this document's
security settings prevent access" when an end user attempts to autonomously
access the content of a document?  nothing analogous pops up to prevent the
sighted user from reviewing the contents of the same file -- "this
document's security settings prevent your display adapter from painting this
document to the screen" -- nor does a "this document's security settings
prevent you from printing this document" dialog appear when the "print"
command is issued...

sounds to me as if somebody's seriously mis-managing my digital rights!

so, where does it stop being the author's problem ("hey, dude--i just don't
want anyone monkeying with the document") and become the application
developer's problem?  what's the role of the AT developer -- don't they bear
a share of the responsibility?  the W3C/WAI is bearing its share of the
responsibility, not only by promulgating standards and guidelines, but in
ensuring, to the best of its ability, that those standards and guidelines
actually reflect the needs and desires of the communities at whom assistive
technologies are targeted...  what the end users of assistive technology
really want is better, more efficient, and more immediate access to a wider
variety and greater choice of applications -- something which is only
possible through adherence to standards...  and, along with programming to
standards, AT developers (at least in the united states) need to begin using
 the shadow of the strong arm of section 508, or whatever other regulatory
mechanism is available under local jurisdiction, to
convince/compel/arm-twist companies into adhering to standards and complying
with guidelines...

so, aaron, as an end user of the technology that your company develops, if
you were to ask me what your users really want, i'd have to reply, simply
the ability to simply turn on their computer, PDA, or cell phone and
interact with the world on their own terms...

gregory.
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ABSURDITY, n.  A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's
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               Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
     Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/index.html
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Received on Monday, 4 June 2001 16:36:17 GMT

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