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RE: GW Micro Helps Make Macromedia Flash Content Accessible to People Who Are Blind

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2002 09:36:00 -0500 (EST)
To: Access Systems <accessys@smart.net>
cc: "WAI (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0203060922350.6890-100000@tux.w3.org>
ASCII text is not a solution that works. "ASCII art" - using text characters
and layout to represent graphic content - is an extremely poor choice for
making graphics that can be presented to users of braille, or people using
speech systems. It is about the only widely used representation of images
that doesn't include the ability to have a description of the image hidden in
the image, but available to software that can present it to the user, and it
makes no sense translated in braille, nor when read by a screen reader, nor
is it scalable, and it makes no sense in the presence of commmon text
changes.

ASCII only covers the characters used in a handful of languages - it is not
sufficient to write French, German, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, Japanese,
Greek, Russian, Chinese, Urdu, Arabic, Thai, Mongolian, etc. (It is possible
to represent those language in ASCII, but very difficult to use and there are
no standards - french and english speakers have different ways of writing the
same arabic word, and english speakers have different ways of writing chinese
words - whereas there are at least widely used standards for including the
relevant characters in a useful way that are used in modern software).

Text is not something that everyone can use. Ther are commmunities whose
ability to communicate in text is very limited. Those people have
traditionally found things like Flash and SVG extremely important to making
information accessible. As they are trying to use more information, and make
their own information more widely accessible, things like Flash being more
readily transformed to other formats such as speech, or SVG providing
text-based views of the information it is representing graphically, are
important steps forwards.

There are a number of screen readers - I know of four for Windows, and at
least four free ones for Linux, and other products. Some of these things cost
money (by buying the Windows system itself, which is a couple of hundred US
dollars, or half the monthly housing cost for an average australian
family, and perhaps less as part of a computer purchase, you get the not very
powerful Narrator software). Some peopel will produce free products, some
will sell their products, and some will be able to buy anything they like,
others will be constrained by their employer/school/available support.

At least we are moving forwards, although there is still along way to go.

Just my 2c worth.

chaals

On Tue, 5 Mar 2002, Access Systems wrote:

  HTML or ASCII Text is about as basic and standard as is possible to get
  and it takes almost nothing to provide.
Received on Wednesday, 6 March 2002 09:36:01 GMT

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