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Re: Arabic text

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 2003 20:49:33 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200301312049.h0VKnXx02804@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

> If, perchance, you have a Macintosh, you can add an arabic keyboard=20

It might be as simple as this on Windows, but I suspect that prior to
Windows 2000, or possibly XP, the fonts needed a web browser or
Outlook Express to support them on European OS builds.  If the
keyboard map is supplied, input might be easier than output.

> "barely minimal" level A if you continue with the technique. If this is=20=

Having done a quick view source, there is a lot of work needed for AA.

> not something you expect to be used on the Web at large you might be=20
> able to sustain an argument for using a transliteration, but I think=20
> the best thing is to use proper text.

I think you need to consider the target audience.  For the arabic1 page,
that audience will not be able to read the text in image or arabic
text form, but might be able to get something out of a transliteration.

Given that it contains key information about the syllabus, I would say
that the primary format needs to be an English language translation of the
text, as text, with the arabic as an image (which should be GIF, not JPEG
and should be larger and should be digitised at the display resolution++).

Unless the script is being taught to people with poor, or no, vision,
I think the image only communicates the general appearance of the script,
so probably doesn't need more than:  "You will learn to write in the Naskhi
form of the arabic script.", or, if you want to go the whole way, 
an approximate phonetic transcription in English sounds (for the man in the
street) or IPA (if the audience has some phonetics training).

For the arabic2 page, what you do will depend on what you taught in the
first stage.  If you:

- taught the use of arabic in US/European OSes and browsers (something
  you probably should do, as it provides learning resources, but something
  that may be foreign to arts teachers);

- and you have arranged with the computing services people to have arabic
  support added to public workstations,

there may be a case for making the primary format proper arabic coded text.

However, you should check to see whether people starting the course
should be able to understand the questions, even though they have to
learn how to answer them.  If not, the primary format needs to be English.
Also, if some of the students are external (the department title suggests
most will be), they may be using office machines, where they will need a
sympathetic IT department before they will be allowed to install fonts
(some offices even have network boot only policy and will wipe local
changes on a reboot).  You will then need to decide whether the image
should be the primary format.

One warning:  US builds of graphical browsers, tend not to handle
international text in title elements or title and alt attributes well.
This is because they tend to use underlying graphical environment
services to display these.

I'm in the second year of an adult Mandarin course, and most of the
other students are Cantonese speakers, but I reckon less than half have
any Chinese font support on the PCs they use (even though I've provided
information on how to install it), and only one other has any input
method installed (and then I think he's using the evaluation version
of a commercial package, with poor fonts, even though Windows standard
fonts and input methods, combined with Netscape/Mozilla's composer are
good enough for anything that would be needed for the course).

If you are teaching many people with Arab (Malay, Pakistani, etc.) family
backgrounds, living in Scotland, you cannot assume they will be aware
of the software that is used in their ancestral homes or the subsets
of that available for the computers sold in the UK.  You will need to
survey the market, in case one cannot genealise from the Chinese case.
If you can make the generalisation, you may be forced to use images.

++ arabic2.jpg was forced to about 2/3rds of its digitised size.  Ideally, 
you should write the text for the computer, and do a screen grab, of slightly
oversized characters, but at the final resolution.  If you have to work from
the manuscript because of lack of time to set up for arabic input, you should
scan as black and white.  Either do it at the final size, or for a better 
result, scan several times oversize, then reduce it into a greyscale image.
Something that people forget here, though, is that web images have a gamma of
2.2, so you must change the gamma to 2.2 after scaling (e.g. use image |
colours | levels in Gimp and type in 2.2 in the middle box, that starts at
1.0; many other image retouch programs have similar tools).

> Content-Type: text/html;

I have a feeling charset is required here, for email!

PS Mozilla 0.9.1 on Linux displays the arabic text, and displays the alt
text in broken/disabled image mode.  However, the text is all in isolated
forms and alt text is not displayed in "tooltips" or in the title bar,
although it is avaiable in page info screens.  Character order is correct
on the main display and the page info displays.
Received on Friday, 31 January 2003 15:49:38 GMT

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