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RE: Axis attribute

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2001 23:39:18 -0500
Message-Id: <200112050430.XAA3201666@smtp1.mail.iamworld.net>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc: Andrew Kirkpatrick <andrew_kirkpatrick@wgbh.org>
At 08:56 PM 2001-12-04 , Jim Thatcher wrote:
>Bottom line, we must be stingy with what we recommend/suggest; if not we
>will not get Web developers to buy in and we won't get that small cadre of
>AT developers to buy in either.


Absolutely.  Couldn't agree more.  One of the laws of this business that we
never stop trying to do better on is "make your demands VERY simple, and VERY
consistently enforced."

But if something is readily achievable, and it changes an access solution that
was barely feasible to use and makes it an adapted technology that is really
usable, do you think we should go for it? 

I don't doubt that in our enthusiasm, in HTML 4.0 and CSS 2.0 we may have
included some features that in retrospect don't really make the "is this trip
necessary?" cut.  Hindsight is always so much clearer.  And 'axis' is
reasonably high on the list of suspects in that regard.  Nowadays we can build
the language with XML Schema and have a clean formal explanation of what is
really there without ad-hoc attributes.

If any AT developers here are aware of _anything_ in the present profile of
Recommendations and drafts, and I would specifically emphasize UAAG 1.0, WCAG
2.0 the XML Accessibility Guidelines among them, that impose an undue
burden on
the AT that you are now developing, please speak up.  This is absolutely what
we need to know.


>Hi Al,
>>Why are you being so stingy and only asking 'necessary'?  Do you care if it
>There are two communities that seem to me to get overlooked in these
>discussions, the web developers and the assistive technology developers. By
>overlooking these groups, the target audience of people with disabilities is
>short changed.
>In principal it might be helpful if the axis attribute were used, and Al,
>your example made YOUR use very clear. But to be helpful in fact, its use
>needs to be very clear, and its value significant. If not the two developer
>communities won't buy in and people won't be helped.  "Might be helpful"
>just doesn't cut it for me.
>It is like the "title" for images discussion on the GL list right now. Just
>when something is really clear for both those developer communities (namely
>use alt for images), add confusion and uncertainty by suggesting that
>SOMETIMES title might be better than alt.
>Bottom line, we must be stingy with what we recommend/suggest; if not we
>will not get Web developers to buy in and we won't get that small cadre of
>AT developers to buy in either.
>Accessibility Consulting
>-----Original Message-----
>From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org
>Behalf Of Al Gilman
>Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2001 4:54 PM
>To: Andrew Kirkpatrick; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
>Subject: Re: Axis attribute
>At 11:42 AM 2001-12-03 , Andrew Kirkpatrick wrote:
>>I have been doing some testing with the axis attribute and come up with a
>>question.  JAWS does read axis values, but it seems only when the data cell
>>uses the headers attribute to make the connection to the header cell where
>>axis is given its value.
>>The information in the axis attribute is not going to be seen by the
>>user, but is read by JAWS.  What information needs to go into axis? The
>>techniques document has a table (expense items in different categories, on
>>different dates, and incurred in different locales)  where axis is used
>>In this table, JAWS reads "Location" as the axis prior to voicing the city
>>where an expense item was incurred.  Location is not visible on screen. 
>>could argue that people know Seattle is a location, but if a table on a
>>different topic sighted people might need the axis information to
>>the table content.
>>I'm increasingly of the mind that if a table uses axis to convey
>>to screen readers then the developer is either repeating information
>>unnecessarily or sighted users are not getting all of the necessary
>AG:: What evidence has led you to this conclusion?  Have you discussed this
>with Tom W.?
>It is a cliche of the human-computer interaction business that users of the
>graphical display get lots of help from what else in in view at the same
>Speech produces one word at a time.  It is not backed up by random
>to lots of concurrent context.
>So it is often rational for an audible rendering of content to contain more
>explicit framing or orientation cues than are exposed in the GUI display.
>In the specific case of 'Seattle' in this table, the visual user has
>access to the items "San Jose" and "Seattle" displayed in parallel form.
>It is
>clear that they are two instances of a common pattern.  From the
>association of
>the two the category of 'cities' can be inferred.
>The aural user only hears 'Seattle.'
>Had the peers of 'Seattle' been 'Geronimo' and "Sitting Bull" instead of
>Jose" it would have been clear to the visual user that the topic was "Native
>American leaders" and not cities.  To make up for the lack of contextual
>from parallel elements in the concurrent display, Jaws picks up the 'axis'
>information and verbalizes it.  The aural user is more likely to need this
>than the visual user is.
>In other words, alternate filtering of the verbiage is _an appropriate_
>kind of
>change in how content is presented when moving between modalities of
>display or
>This needs to be done under well-defined rules that the user understands
>how to
>control in the browse process and the author understands as
>adjustments in their authoring.  We don't have all the rules clear enough
>But don't think that what words you would put on the screen define what
>be read out aurally, or vice versa.  The language just doesn't stretch that
>and produce a rendition that passes the laugh test [or cry].
>On the other hand, following the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines, all
>in all modalities should have access to all content, such as the 'Location'
>annotation in the axis attribute.  But the default presentation as prepared
>the format and author will beneficially be profiled differently for
>display modalities.
>>So here's the question:
>>Does anyone have an example of a table where axis is necessary for
>>technology users? 
>Why are you being so stingy and only asking 'necessary'?  Do you care if it
>helpful?  Are you trying to produce content that is not illegal, or content
>that is useful?
>Basic concepts from the upper left:
>We haven't got all the rules clear yet:
>>Andrew Kirkpatrick, Technical Project Coordinator
>>CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media
>>125 Western Ave.
>>Boston, MA  02134
>>E-mail: andrew_kirkpatrick@wgbh.org
>>Web site: ncam.wgbh.org
>>617-300-4420 (direct voice/FAX)
>>617-300-3400 (main NCAM)
>>617-300-2489 (TTY)
>>WGBH enriches people's lives through programs and services that educate,
>>inspire, and entertain, fostering citizenship and culture, the joy of
>>learning, and the power of diverse perspectives.
Received on Tuesday, 4 December 2001 23:30:22 UTC

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