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Author proposes, user disposes -- it takes both to make it work

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 12:12:32 -0500
Message-Id: <200201311712.MAA374863@smtp1.mail.iamworld.net>
To: "Joel Ward" <ward_joel@bah.com>, "WAI List" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
We are doing some wheel re-inventing, here.  Unfortunately, it is not possible
to get everyone talking to have read everything that was ever written.

On the other hand, the WAI has a User Agent Accessibility Guidelines docuement
in Candidate Recommendation status as we speak that attempts to make this
protocol clear.  If _that_ document is something that we can't agree on, we
need to take this up with the UA working group and The Director.

Both the author and user participation in the show/hide control process is
important; the protocol shows how they work together.

The plot is sometimes summarized as "author proposes, user disposes."

A slight expansion on that is laid out in some comments to the Device
Independence group prepared by WAI/PF.

 some WAI comments on Device Independence
 <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2001Nov/0069.html>http://
lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2001Nov/0069.html

The Recommendation track language of record in this are is the checkpoints of
UAAG Guideline 2:

 2. Ensure user access to all content.
 <http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG10/guidelines.html#gl-content-access>http://www.
w3.org/TR/UAAG10/guidelines.html#gl-content-access

Throughout all this we need to constantly affirm that the author's sense of
what is important is extremely valuable.  It saves many users much wasted time
and helps some users understand what they would never find their way to if they
had to do all that filtering and profiling themselves.  But it is not globally
accurate.  The author cannot fully appreciate the communications usefulness or
uselessness of all aspects of the data bundle in all the far nooks and crannies
of the user-capability space.  So in the end, the user has to have the chance
to attempt to resurrect a situation that is not working by piecewise control of
this control variable (see Guideline 2.3 in the UAAG CR version).

We have consistently maintained that no data should be shared with the user's
agent that is not open to the user.  What is easy should be easy, but what is
hard should be possible.  After some careful consideration, this principle has
been accomodated in a change to the SMIL specification in the area of the
'override' attribute on the customTest element.

 <http://www.w3.org/TR/smil20/smil-content.html#adef-override>http://www.w3
.org/TR/smil20/smil-content.html#adef-override

Al

At 11:11 AM 2002-01-31 , Joel Ward wrote:
>Hi Kynn,
>
>I agree about that.  The author is the content owner, and ultimately decides
>what we can see and read.
>
>However, I feel user is the one who should decide whether to read or ignore
>the information.  If the author can add simple alt text to an image to
>convey what's in the image, then user has the option whether to interpret it
>or not.
>
>If the author feels only visual users deserve to know about their images,
>then I feel they may be discriminating.  Since it's easy enough to add alt
>text, why not just add it?  And like I said before, if the image isn't
>important enough for alt text, why include it at all?
>
>I realize this is a touchy subject, and there isn't one answer for all
>situations.  But since we have the alt attribute I think it should be used,
>and used properly.
>
>Joel
>
>P.S.  This opinion has developed in the past few weeks from reading
>discussions posted to this list.  Am I going in the wrong direction?
>
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: <kynn-eda@idyllmtn.com>
>To: "Joel Ward" <ward_joel@bah.com>
>Cc: "WAI List" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
>Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2002 10:59 AM
>Subject: Re: Creating accessible tables for layout and data: alt attributes
>
>
>> Joel wrote:
>> > Of course, that example was about important information, not decorative
>> > information.  But the argument can be made that the user should be the
>one
>> > to filter what is important and what is not important.
>>
>> No, the author is the one who can determine the purpose of the page. The
>> purpose of the page is not determined by the user. Therefore, authorial
>> intent needs to be the decision-making factor behind the decision as to
>> what is important and what is not.
>>
>> In a way, this is simply practical common sense -- there's one author (or
>> one group of authors, functioning collectively) and millions of potential
>> users. As precognition and telepathy techniques have yet to be developed,
>> the author's viewpoint must prevail.
>>
>> Also, reasonably speaking, there is no way to enforce an accessibility
>> principle that puts user desires over authorial intent, even if that were
>> in some way desirable. (It's not.)
>>
>> A decision will always need to be made as to "what is important on this
>> page" and what is not -- and that will be the author's decision. What we
>> need to do is give the author sound advice on how to make this decision in
>> a way that does not exclude members of his audience. We -don't- need to
>> claim that the author has no right to make the decision which he clearly
>> does, and we don't need to place unfulfillable requirements (e.g. "give
>> ALL information to ALL users") which the author would not be able to
>> meet.
>>
>> --Kyn
>>
>>
>  
Received on Thursday, 31 January 2002 12:12:35 GMT

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