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RE: JSTOR and accessibility

From: John Foliot - bytown internet <foliot@bytowninternet.com>
Date: Tue, 28 May 2002 18:07:14 -0400
To: <agorman@megsinet.net>
Cc: "W3c-Wai-Ig" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <GKEFJJEKDDIMBHJOGLENOEFMCHAA.foliot@bytowninternet.com>
I cannot claim any expertise here, but I have used OCR on more than one
occaison.  OCR = Optical Character Recognition, whereby the software applies
"paterning" recognition against shapes, and then attempts to replicate those
shapes as letters.  In my experience, "standard" font faces such as Times or
Arial work much better than more ornate font faces, even if you would not
neccesarily consider the font face you use as "ornate".  Smaller font sizes
are problematic... anything under 12 pts. can be "tricky" at best, and for
OCR to work, most software packages recommend at least 200 dpi.

I personally cannot see how providing TIFFs (which are essentially
non-compressed graphic files - ie: pictures) as downloadable files for the
end user to OCR could ever be considered accessible by any stretch of the
imagination.  TIFFs would be huge to download, and the provider *assumes*
the end user has OCR software installed... a might big assumption.

While a "Priority 2" checkpoint (but NOT part of Section 508 - pity)
Checkpoint #3.1 states: "When an appropriate markup language exists, use
markup rather than images to convey information."

In the true spirit of accessibility then, tell you JSTOR folks that they are
simply creating another problem, not solving the current one.  If they go so
far to make their files TIFFs, why can't they go the final step and and
perform the OCR themselves, and post the text as text?

Just my $0.02


> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
> Behalf Of Audrey J. Gorman
> Sent: May 28, 2002 5:19 PM
> To: W3c-Wai-Ig
> Subject: FW: JSTOR and accessibility
> This is from AXS-LIB, a libraries and accessibility discussion list. Two
> questions for the WAI-IG:
> 1. How does OCR work on a TIFF document?
> 2. Is Ron's assessment of the complexity of the process accurate?
> I think that accessibility fixes should be straightforward so that the
> "playing field" is at least a little more "level."  Answers?
> Comments? I'd
> like to help my colleagues in libraries get the right message to
> the folks
> at JSTOR. We're working on taking the accessibility message to
> all vendors
> who sell to libraries.
> Audrey
> Audrey J. Gorman
> Access for All
> Naperville, IL, USA
> agorman@megsinet.net
> Mobile: 630-661-9062
> Office: 630-717-7336
> www.accessall.net (under construction - temporary site)
> =================================================
> "The power of the Web is in its universality.
> Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect"
> Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the WWW
> =================================================
> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Ron Stewart [SMTP:Ron.Stewart@ORST.EDU]
> Sent:	Tuesday, May 28, 2002 3:54 PM
> Subject:	Re: JSTOR and accessibility
> Axel,
> I guess my question is why bother. I appreciate the effort, but feel that
> it
> is misdirected. While it does provide a better situation for the program
> doing a the document conversion it does nothing to improve access for the
> end user.
> Working with a TIFF file conversion can be more difficult that a straight
> OCR from print for the typical user, or using a reading machine which is
> how
> our novice uses typically interact with non-accessible documents. This
> effort still will require that an intuitional process be established to
> convert the docs and does not provide the user with direct access to the
> content and as such does not meet the criteria of the law.
> Ron Stewart
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Schmetzke, Axel [mailto:aschmetz@UWSP.EDU]
> Sent: Saturday, May 25, 2002 9:02 AM
> Subject: Re: JSTOR and accessibility
> Ron, I would not say that the situation would not be better with at
> least TIFF files being made available. If it is the case that these can
> be OCRed (without having to go through the process of printing them
> first), then they can be converted into text files (which are, of
> course, of somewhat lesser quality because of the errors that occur in
> connection with the OCRing). It thus seems to me that having access to
> TIFF files is better than mere access to absolutely inaccessible GIF
> files.
> For me, the question is the following: How shall we respond to JSTOR's
> efforts? Shall we take the attitude that some access is better than no
> access and praise JSTOR for their attempts to make available a more
> accessible product--adding that they should strive to go still further
> by findings ways to make available top-quality text files? Or shall we
> simply snuff at their current efforts and insist that anything but
> text-based files is unacceptable?
> Axel
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ron Stewart [mailto:Ron.Stewart@ORST.EDU]
> Sent: Friday, May 24, 2002 3:02 PM
> Subject: Re: JSTOR and accessibility
> This is not any better than what we are dealing with now. TIFF files are
> graphics, not text, when JStor is willing to produce true text documents
> then they will not have to worry about compliance.
> Ron Stewart
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Schmetzke, Axel [mailto:aschmetz@UWSP.EDU]
> Sent: Friday, May 24, 2002 12:57 PM
> Subject: Re: JSTOR and accessibility
> I'm very hesitant to consider JSTOR's approach towards providing
> accessibility an acceptable solution, but the very fact that a
> database/e-journal provider publicly addresses accessibility issues
> pertaining to its graphics-based product is promising.
> I'm curious: How do you folks feel about JSTOR's approach towards
> providing some measure of accessibility? Should we, as librarians,
> consider graphics TIFF files, which can be OCRed and can thus be
> converted into a screen-readable text-file, to be sufficiently
> accessible? Or are we bothered by the fact that it takes an additional
> piece of technology (OCR software), and thus an additional step, to get
> to text-based information, and that the converted text is substandard
> because of the errors produced by current OCR technology?
> Axel
> ***************
> Axel Schmetzke
> Library
> University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Coonin, Bryna R [mailto:COONINB@MAIL.ECU.EDU]
> Sent: Friday, May 24, 2002 1:23 PM
> Subject: JSTOR and accessibility
> Friends --
> Full-text e-journal provider, JSTOR, has a team actively working on some
> of
> the accessibility issues in JSTOR that have concerned many of us over
> time.
> To keep users informed about developments in this area they have now
> included updates on this effort on the JSTOR web page at:
> http://www.jstor.org/about/accessibility.html
> Bryna Coonin
> Joyner Library
> East Carolina University
> Greenville, NC 27858
> E-mail: cooninb@mail.ecu.edu
Received on Tuesday, 28 May 2002 18:07:24 UTC

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