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RE: Unicode and accessibility

From: Jon Gunderson <jongund@uiuc.edu>
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2004 10:35:25 -0500
To: Jim Thatcher <jim@jimthatcher.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <ada19e66.2c54b9ff.8ca7200@expms1.cites.uiuc.edu>


Language switching is a major accessibility issue in
education.  Foriegn language requirements are increasing at
universities, and rather than add new people, most
universities are turning to technology to help teach
languages.  The web based learning systems (in the US) use
both english and the foriegn language on the same page.  It is
impossible for students to figure out when to manually switch
languages.  We have had at least one student who voluntarily
switched to a dead language (latin) which does not use the web
based learning systems, becasue they could not use the web
based system.  These systems are a required part of the
course.  Students are monitored on their use of the web
materials, and actually spend less time with a TA.

There is an important need for a least a language CHANGE
requirement (P1 WCAG) since speech users would not have access
to materials without it. 


---- Original message ----
>Date: Sun, 4 Apr 2004 09:59:17 -0500
>From: "Jim Thatcher" <jim@jimthatcher.com>  
>Subject: RE: Unicode and accessibility  
>To: "'Jesper Tverskov'" <jesper.tverskov@mail.tele.dk>,
>   Use markup!
>   I wrote the "language guessing" algorithm for the
>   first version of IBM Home Page Reader that did
>   automatic language switching. It was hard, and only
>   switched languages for the whole page. It is
>   certainly impossible to guess language changes for
>   phrases. We only worried about switching to the 6 or
>   8 languages available. Even then my measure of
>   success was the ability to successfully switch for
>   major sites, like Yahoo and IBM, which had country
>   specific versions. Today HPR will do language
>   switching in the document when it is properly marked
>   up and when the language is supported.
>   I still don't consider language switching an
>   accessibility issue (as I argued eons ago during
>   WCAG 1.0 development) marking up language changes is
>   the way to go.
>   Jim
>   Accessibility, What Not to do:
>   http://jimthatcher.com/whatnot.htm.
>   Web Accessibility Tutorial:
>   http://jimthatcher.com/webcourse1.htm.                   
>   -----Original Message-----
>   From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org
>   [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of
>   Jesper Tverskov
>   Sent: Sunday, April 04, 2004 6:25 AM
>   To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
>   Subject: Unicode and accessibility
>   I would like to ask the list about potential or
>   already existing  problems or challenges for
>   accessibility caused by the use of Unicode.
>   Let us take Google as example. It returns search
>   results in many different languages on the same
>   page, and the result page uses Unicode.
>   At the moment change of natural language is not
>   included in the mark-up. Since the user can choose
>   to get results in a particular language only it
>   would probably be possible for Google to indicate
>   change of natural language automatically even when
>   many languages are used in the same page and the
>   page is generated from many different language
>   sources.
>   It is probably less realistic to expect smaller or
>   ordinary websites and web services to be able to
>   include mark-up for change of natural language when
>   documents are generated on the run from many
>   language sources including interaction with users,
>   like commentary and debate, etc.
>   Now consider a modern word processor like MS Word.
>   Even if 10 different languages are used in 10
>   paragraphs on the same page, the spell checker has
>   no problem identifying the change of
>   natural language and to apply the right dictionary
>   for each paragraph. No indication of change of
>   natural language is needed by the author.
>   Maybe it is more realistic in many situations to
>   leave indication of change in natural language to
>   user agents than to expect web page authors to do
>   the job. Web page authors should probably still
>   indicate change of natural language in web content
>   made by themselves, but it is probably much more
>   convenient and realistic to leave this task to user
>   agents for many types of generated content. Why not
>   leave the job of indicating change of natural
>   language to a handful of user agents and save
>   millions of web page authors for a lot of work?
>   The above is just one example of problems or
>   challenges for accessibility arising from or made
>   more common by the use of Unicode. I would like to
>   hear of other cases, and if it is more realistic in
>   many situations to leave detection of change in
>   natural language to user agents.
>   Best regards,
>   Jesper Tverskov
>   www.smackthemouse.com
Jon Gunderson, Ph.D., ATP
Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technology
Division of Rehabilitation - Education Services
College of Applied Life Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
1207 S. Oak Street, Champaign, IL  61820

Voice: (217) 244-5870
Fax: (217) 333-0248

E-mail: jongund@uiuc.edu

WWW: http://cita.rehab.uiuc.edu/
WWW: http://www.staff.uiuc.edu/~jongund
Received on Monday, 5 April 2004 11:35:57 UTC

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