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Re: aural supplementation for minority language pages

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 04:13:56 -0400 (EDT)
To: "Scarlett Julian (ED)" <Julian.Scarlett@sheffield.gov.uk>
cc: "'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0206200400590.22370-100000@tux.w3.org>


I don't see where the problem is, except that you might not have the right
authoring tools. There is in fact a lot of content in Cantonese.  Putting
pages on the Web in chinese or arabic or other character sets has been
reasonably easy for a number of years now. But putting up an image of chinese
text causes lots of problems, like any images of text.

Embedding a sound file alongside text only causes two problems. One is the
bandwidth required, and the other is whether people are able to play the
file. The technique has been used by lots of sites for quite a long time now
- for an example consider mencap - http://www.mencap.org.uk - whose audience
often find any written language difficult or impossible to work with.

I think the problem might be more acute in languages like Welsh, which
worldwide have very few speakers - I don't know if there is a speech
synthesiser that can handle welsh, so a person who is blind may have trouble
getting comprehensible text to speech. But a little work with Yolngu Matha
languages - a group of 31 languages that share a script and pronunciation,
more or less, and have collectively only thousands of speakers - suggests
that it probably is possible.

A more complex problem exists for hebrew and arabic (one of these is a common
language for australian government material to be translated into). In these
languages it is common not to write the vowels in words. This apparently
causes problems for screen readers, and more problems for people who are
dyslexic in certain ways. This should considered when testing WCAG checkpoint
4.1 - write simply and clearly. A similar issue exists in Japanese over the
use of Kanji or Kana characters, but it is a more complex issue that I won't
treat here.



On Thu, 20 Jun 2002, Scarlett Julian (ED) wrote:


  I have search the archives and can't seem to find anything on this although
  I'm sure that it's been covered somewhere.

  A page needs posting that is aimed at a minority section of the community.
  Let's say for the sake of argument that we need to post material aimed at
  the local Cantonese-speaking population. There is a problem in putting up
  the text of the page because Cantonese is not based on the Latin character
  set and reads in a different order to Indo-European languages. we could scan
  an image of the text and put that up (far from ideal) with alt text and
  longdesc but the textual equivalents would have to be in English too so that
  doesn't solve anything. Has anyone considered embedding a sound file in the
  page that will play on loading the page and 'speak' the text in the
  appropriate language? What potential problems might this cause?


  Julian Scarlett
  Web Design & Document Management System Officer
  Education Directorate
  Sheffield City Council

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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
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Received on Thursday, 20 June 2002 04:13:57 UTC

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