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Re: accessibility & icon use

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 06:25:21 -0500 (CDT)
Message-ID: <1160.>
To: "David Harris" <david.harris@tcat.ac.uk>
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Hi David,

yes there is quite a lot of work in this area. Unfortunately it has almost
no profile at all in WAI discussions at the moment. There are several
symbol sets that are implemente in a range of software (chat, email,
document composition, etc) - Bliss, PCS, Widgit, and a couple of others
whose names aren't at the tip of my tongue.

If you follow Jonathan's work closer you might find references to the
WWAAC group, and the CCF or Concept Coding Framework which they are
developing [1]. This is a semantic-web based approach to identifying
concepts, and then things that represent them - which turns out to work
quite well for symbol-based systems, and in addition allows for easy
customisation - for example I can use a photo of me instead of a symbol
for "me".

I can use SVG symbols so I can style things appropriately. Jonathan often
talks about the red-bus/green-bus problem, where if people see a symbol
for bus and it is red they interpret that as important, and ignore all the
passing buses because they happen to be green.

I did some mock-ups of how to do this in SVG, and hope to get a simple
SVG-based demo quality authoring system running soon. You might like to
look at an example (note that the RDF included uses a whole lot of
undeclared dummy properties - it has the rough shape of the real thing,
but has been "greeked" - dummy text used) [2].

One of the big issues is copyright - none of these symbol sets are freely
available in the way that words and letters are - you have to pay for
them. This has been a barrier to interoperability and communication.
Again, interesting developments include the fact that the Unicode
consortium are looking at including bliss symbols in Unicode, which would
actually mean the specific concepts encoded by bliss, since the images
that represent them are just like different fonts.

So I think it isn't such a bad idea to develop symbols if you're going to
give them away, but if you are not it would be cheaper, and probably more
interoperable, to just buy a license for some software that includes a
decent sized symbol set.

[1] http://dewey.computing.dundee.ac.uk/ccf
[2] http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Europe/talks/20040309-charles/mesg.svg (you
should be able to open it in an old browser and see something roughly
right, or in Amaya to see something better)



Charles McCathieNevile           charles@sidar.org

<quote who="David Harris">
> I'm looking at making accessible an educational website for an FE college
> and while looking at inclusiveness of people with learning difficulties,
> Something struck me. I think, maybe a potential standardisation missing
> which may help many people.
> What I'm interested in is the use of icons on web pages as the main
> meaning
> representation for links (see  Jonathan Chetwynd's web site at
> http://www.peepo.com for example).
> Is there any development of a global standard for meanings of icons /
> pictograms so that meanings become standard like text?
Received on Wednesday, 5 May 2004 07:29:59 UTC

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