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Re: aural supplementation for minority language pages

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 07:52:22 +0100 (BST)
Message-Id: <200206210652.g5L6qMJ01116@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

> 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

Not a good example because Chinese is well supported by modern browsers.

> 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

Although books and possibly newspapers may be written top to bottom within
right to left, that's not a fixed rule and web pages are written in left to
right within top to bottom order.  If you want a difficult case use
an Indian language.  Whilst the BBC Hindi page is in UTF-8, I think you
might need IE6 and Word 2000 (for the fonts) to cope with it.  I'm not
aware of Indian versions of Windows in the way that there are Thai and
Chinese ones, although there may be local software, which probably 
violates character set labelling rules, that does support Indian languages
in native form.  (Google use romanised Hindi.)

Chinese web pages have about the same proportion of text as graphics as
do English ones.

> 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?

You need to consider where people will be viewing these pages.  I would
suggest that relatively few people would have their own web access if they
weren't relatively competent in English, but if they did have, I would 
expect such a person to already have at least Big 5 (Hong Kong and Taiwan)
Chinese support already installed, either through Windows Update, or as
one of the commercial bolt ons).

If they had access in a work place (and I suspect few workers with poor
English would have such access), the most common ways of delivering sound
(most configurations of Real Media, e.g. those used by the BBC World Service)
will not get through many firewalls.

If they are older people gaining access through the systems owned by younger
relatives, those relatives might want to simply interpret the English version,
but otherwise, it is probably better to encourage the relatives to install
Chinese support (from the Mandarin classes I attend, I get the impression that
very few Cantonese speakers actually have it installed, but then a lot of them
are not particularly competent in written Chinese).

That more or less leaves libraries and the like.  In the UK, where libraries
tend to be controlled by the council, I would suggest that you should
educate the librarians into installing all the various language packs for
their browsers.  In any case, I haven't noticed many library systems having
sound - it would probably encourage purely recreational use, when they are
providing the internet access for educational use.

I can't see people going into an internet cafe to see your pages unless that
cafe specifically supports the Cantonese community, in which case they will
already have Big5 support, or could be encouraged to add it.

Chinese pages, in both simplified and traditional characters, is a major
component of the web, and some say is about to become the dominant one.

One other thing about sound.  On older systems, non-streamed audio really
is not streamed, so tends to start a long time after the page displays.
Received on Friday, 21 June 2002 02:53:36 GMT

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