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RE: What this list is all about ... was RE: Business Benefits of Access-for-All Design

From: Jukka Korpela <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 2002 09:27:54 +0200
Message-ID: <621574AE86FAD3118D1D0000E22138A95BDF71@TIEKE1>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc: Michael Burks <mburks952@worldnet.att.net>

Jim Thatcher wrote:

> I really don't know why I subscribe to this list.

I think I do, but I presume the question was rhetoric. That's OK on this
forum I guess, but generally, rhetoric questions are an accessibility
problem: many people don't understand them as rhetoric, and miss the point
(as well as might spend their time in trying to answer them). This is a good
example where style and accessibility might be in real conflict.

> Eight messages responding to Mike's message and not ONE, repeat, 
> not one, message which was on topic.

I would say that incorrect HTTP headers (definitely incorrect - as a matter
of fact, not opinion) are a real accessibility problem. It might be on the
technical side, but still. Relying on the erroneous behavior of the
currently most common browser will certainly exclude many people with
disabilities, who use other browsers for their various reasons. And, of
course, quite a many people who use other browsers for reasons not related
to a disability.

And the particular message that you quoted is surely about accessibility
too:

> The HTML is also broken, as you might expect from Front Page.  It's
> got p within b, and, of course, a lot of presentational markup.

There's no reasonably way for client software to guess that a paragraph is
actually a header, and recognizing headers is crucial e.g. for adequate
speech synthesis that makes headings prominent, for getting a quick overview
by reading just the headings, etc.

But I would say that the little rant puts a little too much blame on
FrontPage. I just tested on FrontPage Express (and I'd expect the situation
to be the same on FrontPage): if you use the program's menu on the left and
select e.g. Heading 3, you actually get <h3> markup; if you instead paint
some text and bold it and increase the font size, well, you get poor
presentational markup instead. We might criticize the software for not
making the right way easier than the wrong way (it's now a little clumsier).
But we might also criticize ourselves for keeping our hands so clean that we
don't teach people how to make the best of the authoring tools they have
decided to use, or have been forced to use.

As regards to the article, http://www.ideal-group.org/World_Bank/index.asp
I failed to see its basic point, since it contains so many details (even
presented in obscure, inaccessible notations like "1.6B" (intended to
indicate some sum I presume)), but I think second or third reading and
following some key links will help. It's a crucial topic, not only as
regards to accessibility of the Web pages of private companies, but for real
accessibility of Web sites of public organizations. After all, these days
public institutions are expected to be cost-efficient and behave much like
private companies, though without the freedom that companies have. :-(

-- 
Jukka Korpela, senior adviser 
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
http://www.tieke.fi/
Diffuse Business Guide to Web Accessibility and Design for All:
http://www.diffuse.org/accessibility.html
Received on Thursday, 28 November 2002 02:28:23 GMT

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