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XHTML vs. HTML

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2003 14:16:58 -0700
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
To: Tim Roberts <tim@wiseguysonly.com>
Message-Id: <5B0A4444-A752-11D7-9537-000393D9E692@idyllmtn.com>


On Wednesday, June 25, 2003, at 01:53 PM, Tim Roberts wrote:
> There is nothing wrong with HTML (I am unsure how long this will stand 
> true) and it can be made as accessible as anything.
>
> However, my point was that XHTML demands a certain level of 
> accessibility in the fact that it is specifically aimed at encouraging 
> developers to seperate content and style - this is definitely a good 
> move for producing accessibile content.

HTML makes the same demands.  If you are comparing XHTML Strict to HTML
Transitional, then you're making a bad comparison.  If you're comparing
XHTML Strict to HTML Strict, you find that the statement above applies
to both languages.

> It also enforces developers to provide obligatory textual alternatives 
> for objects, frames, scripts and applets etc.

HTML 4.01 requires this.

> And finally, is it better to develop accessible sites using older 
> technologies, or new technolgies that contain backwards comaptibility 
> as well as ensuring your site will still perform with browsing devices 
> that have not yet been invented.

XHTML is not necessarily backwards compatible, and there's little to
indicate that HTML support will be going away -- ever.  The argument
that newer technologies are necessarily better is not logically sound.

> I remind you that the w3 states:
> "XHTML is the successor of HTML."

Yes, but that doesn't mean anything in the real world. That's marketing
spin, not a technical requirement.

> I will have to stand by my claim and say that HTML 4 can be made 
> accessibile, XHTML has more inherent features that steer developers 
> toward accessible development, but both still need the human 
> experience to determine the true accessibility.

The statement "XHTML has more inherent features that steer developers
toward accessible development" is puzzling.  What exactly are you
talking about?  There is no difference between HTML 4.01 and
XHTML 1.0, save for the specific requirements of XML.  And there are
no inherent accessibility features in XML.

What's more, HTML 4.01 -- by being more forgiving than XHTML 1.0's
XML rules -- may in fact be more accessible to people with various
disabilities to _author_ because of that reason.  XHTML 1.0 is
slightly harder than HTML 4.01, so it raises the bar a little bit
higher.  Whenever you raise a bar, you have a chance of excluding
someone.

In this case, the exclusion is probably minimal, but the very fact
that such could exist is a good counter to the notion that XHTML is
automatically more accessible than HTML.

--Kynn

--
Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                     http://kynn.com
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain                http://idyllmtn.com
Author, CSS in 24 Hours                       http://cssin24hours.com
Inland Anti-Empire Blog                      http://blog.kynn.com/iae
Shock & Awe Blog                           http://blog.kynn.com/shock
Received on Wednesday, 25 June 2003 17:11:31 GMT

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