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Re: Query systems (e.g. search engines): a proposal on specific acces sibility guidelines

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Mon, 04 Mar 2002 10:27:21 -0500
Message-Id: <Version.32.20020304090955.00978f00@pop.iamdigex.net>
To: Jukka Korpela <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>, "'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

** Summary

At 04:32 AM 2002-03-04 , Jukka Korpela wrote:
>The importance of query systems like search engines and database queries is
>well known. Their use is often highly interactive, requiring the user to
>work with largish amounts of data in the query results. This makes their
>accessibility very important. Yet, such systems often return results in a
>format which is difficult to use, especially to the blind.
>
>With the help of several people, I've composed a proposal on principles that
>could be recommended to query system implementors and maintainers:
>http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/forms/qdfa.html
>
[...]
>I wonder if it would be possible to discuss the proposal here, and maybe, if
>a consensus can be found, try to get some "W3C stamp" on it. 


The idea is a good idea.  The 'here' may be adjusted a bit, but we'll have to see about that.

To get recognized as a task force or action item from the WAI management, there should be more than one person working on it, and the WAI Coordination Group should have an idea where it fits into our deliverables and workplan.

You already have several people working with you but they may need to step forward and join the Content Guidelines group.  I don't know that yet, it depends on the adminstrative decisions that I will help you get from the organization but cannot make by myself.

An initial suggestion for where it fits into the WAI workplan is as a section in the Web Content Techniques.  I will offer to advocate for the idea that this is something that should be done.  To argue that the Coordination Group should give this topic a home. 

Among the volunteers agreed to work together on it is good if we can form a team with a spread of disability and designer expertise.

** details

In my opinion a very good idea -- to take the domain of search applications and work on what should be present in the web content and happening in the User Agent functions in this context.

As I see the process and plans of the WAI, the easiest and most natural path to getting the writeup of this topic to get peer reviewed and gain some W3C status would be to treat it as web content _techniques_ and have the discussion and and consensus under the charter of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Group <http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/>.  There could be User Agent techniques that are produced as well, I don't know.  It depends on what you learn.

This does not mean that the query systems rules would gain the full status of "Recommendations" but they would be published by the W3C and linked from the Guidelines Recommendation as examples of how to satisfy the guidelines.  Web authors welcome and will use well-done concrete information, so I would not take the possible lack of "Normative part of the Recommendation" status as an overwhelming consideration.  On the other hand, that is for those willing to work on this to decide.  To get a separate Recommendation in this area would take more bureaucratic trouble for the proponents and could face an uphill battle to gain support by the WAI leadership.  That is just a rough guess.  I would suggest working on the top in the guise of a module for the Techniques and see where it goes from there.  Lessons learned from specific areas of application _will_ be incorporated in the more general guidelines when the necessity is clear from worked examples.


Please would anyone interested in exploring XForms in this regard do speak up.  The Protocols and Formats working group needs worked examples or application scenario discussions to make clear to the XForms Working Group the user-interaction basis for possible changes in the technology specifications.

Search and Query is one key functional application for Forms technology and B2C eCommerce transactions is another.  We could stand to have a Task Force in either area.

Anyone who thinks such a task force, in either area, is a good idea should let Jukka and me know at the least.  I am not ruling out posting your reactions to this idea via this list, either.

Al


At 04:32 AM 2002-03-04 , Jukka Korpela wrote:
>The importance of query systems like search engines and database queries is
>well known. Their use is often highly interactive, requiring the user to
>work with largish amounts of data in the query results. This makes their
>accessibility very important. Yet, such systems often return results in a
>format which is difficult to use, especially to the blind.
>
>With the help of several people, I've composed a proposal on principles that
>could be recommended to query system implementors and maintainers:
>http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/forms/qdfa.html
>
>It suggests the "minimal recommendation" to include a link to the start of
>query results proper into the beginning of a results page. This should be
>very easy to implement and would help quite a lot. Then it proposes some
>principles on the general structure of result pages (mainly to be considered
>when designing new systems, of course) as well as the use of headings and
>accesskeys.
>
>I wonder if it would be possible to discuss the proposal here, and maybe, if
>a consensus can be found, try to get some "W3C stamp" on it. I'm pretty sure
>that organizations like Google and AltaVista would take a simple proposal
>from the W3C seriously, especially if there's something in it that can be
>implemented very simply.
>
>-- 
>Jukka Korpela
>TIEKE Tietoyhteiskunnan kehittämiskeskus ry
>Finnish Information Society Development Centre 
>Salomonkatu 17 A, 10th floor, FIN - 00100 HELSINKI, FINLAND
>Phone: +358 9 4763 0397 Fax: +358 9 4763 0399 
>http://www.tieke.fi  jukka.korpela@tieke.fi
> 
Received on Monday, 4 March 2002 10:27:32 GMT

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