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RE: free/not free proprietary

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 19:17:29 -0400 (EDT)
To: Jim Thatcher <jim@jimthatcher.com>
cc: Nick Kew <nick@midgard.webthing.com>, Martin McCormick <martin@dc.cis.okstate.edu>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0205021910280.9466-100000@tux.w3.org>
To look at this another way, the real question is about
machine-understanbdable information - in this case control information. As
Jim says, the value of GUI systems is that (more and more) they have
standardised controls which can be triggered using anything the developer of
a particular interface can dream up. They also have more standardised output
methods, and increasingly those too are machine-understandable and suitable
for re-rendering - with visual icons, textual labels, and other information
all explicitly linked so they can be re-presented programmatically in a
variety of intersting ways. (Mac OS X is not really a paragon of
accessibility, but it does demonstrate some of these ideas in neat ways).

Free-text systems were great for poeple who could remember a large amount of
complex text syntax - something that many people happen to be good at. GUI
systems are great for people who prefer visual cues to remind them and prompt
them - again, something that applies to many people.

Well designed modern sytems allow for a combination of both, by abstracting
more of the architecture. There is a tension, because in order to get the
very best performance designers often want to bypass the abstraction layers
and don't always consider the effects of that. There are also cases where
developers bypass the abstract layer initially since there is no current use
case. Unfortunately that makes it difficult to move forwards, since any
useful technology will have to cope with the case where the abstraction
wasn't properly used before they start developing for the things that wil be
useful in the future, when people have stopped using nasty hacks.

just some thoughts.



On Thu, 2 May 2002, Jim Thatcher wrote:

  Nick, OK, I'll correct you:

  "For blind users, any kind of GUI would seem particularly pointless
  (correct me if I'm wrong:-)."

  Far from pointless, the GUI offers standardized application controls,
  leaving the problem of access to the "client area" of applications to the
  ingenuity of screen reader developers. With text based applications every
  application had to be specifically "scripted" or "profiled" in order to work
  at all.

  It is not a done deal for screen readers today because applications use
  non-standard controls without appropriately taking care of that. And of
  course the work areas of applications can be a disaster, but it is a lot
  better than the text based world as we knew it when OS/2 and Windows came
  onto the scene.

  Accessibility Consulting
  Constructing Accessible Web Sites, is now available at Amazon:
  I recommend it. It's a good book!

  -----Original Message-----
  From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
  Behalf Of Nick Kew
  Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 4:49 PM
  To: Martin McCormick
  Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
  Subject: Re: free/not free proprietary

  On Thu, 2 May 2002, Martin McCormick wrote:

  > 	I agree.  Put simply, there is not presently a browser
  > that works with script for UNIX users who do not use X windows.
  > Making X windows accessible is a huge order.
  > 	The minimum functionality should be a browser engine that
  > can at least follow all links and call auxiliary programs to
  > handle content that the browser can not display as text.

  For blind users, any kind of GUI would seem particularly pointless
  (correct me if I'm wrong:-).  So a commandline-based system with,
  for example, Lynx+Pine+Speech would be an ideal way of getting
  online.  That is to say, subject to accessibility considerations.

  One of the goals of my accessibility proxy proposal is a javascript
  engine that will deal with scripting-based links on behalf of users,
  whether of Lynx or of any other browser without scripting, or
  anyone in a security-conscious environment.

  Nick Kew

Charles McCathieNevile    http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  phone: +61 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative     http://www.w3.org/WAI  fax: +33 4 92 38 78 22
Location: 21 Mitchell street FOOTSCRAY Vic 3011, Australia
(or W3C INRIA, Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France)
Received on Thursday, 2 May 2002 19:18:46 UTC

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