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RE: link to us: Is there a recommendation to provide a graphic for external linking? if so where?

From: John Foliot - WATS.ca <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 21:58:20 -0500
To: "WAI Interest Group" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

An interesting thread, but one which leaves many questions unanswered.

My greatest concern is that imagery (and iconography) makes assumptions
which very often lack a foundation in reality, or at the very least,
practicality.  For example, Chaals, while I *do* know who Michael Jackson
and Kylie Minogue are, (and I tend to avoid Burger King restaurants <grin>),
I have absolutely no idea what the Path Train is (let alone have the
capacity to recognize any symbol or image associated to it).  Ditto for
White Wings...

Images alone, while a strong re-enforcer of a concept or idea, cannot be the
sole means of identifying a concept, be it a link or another expression of
an idea or concept.  In many of our WATS.ca information seminars, we present
an image/icon of a magnifying glass as a link.  We then poll the audience as
to what they think will happen when we click on that link: the two most
common responses are either "Search" or "Enlarge the Text"... the point is,
which is it?  And in a nutshell, that's the problem isn't it?  On the Peepo
site (http://www.peepo.com/alfi-x/numeracy.html), the magnifying glass there
is a link to "logic, numbers, observation, position" (whatever that actually

Then there is the issue of text only user agents.  While at least one of my
fellow countrymen (and frequent contributor to this list) will scoff at this
as a non-issue, another regular contributor to this list (Access Bob) is a
dyed in the wool text browser user... proving that at least one internet
user is still using text only browsers... If you *truly* wish to achieve
Universal Accessibility, developing sites and content "optimized" for one
user group at the expense of another is hardly the true path (such as using
images only).  And relying on  techniques such as JavaScript MouseOvers and
alt text/title "tool tip popups" is, IMHO not a viable "solution" either...
these behaviours are neither universal nor 100% reliable.

I don't want to come off here as a ludditte, and in truth we are continually
seeking new ways of extending both accessibility and usability, but I can't
help but returning to the fact that, all things being equal, good 'ol ASCII
text has the broadest and most accessible means of conveying links, concepts
and other ideas.  Re-enforcing the text with imagery is a positive
accessibility "enhancer", but should not be thought of as a replacement.

John Foliot  foliot@wats.ca
Web Accessibility Specialist / Co-founder of WATS.ca
Web Accessibility Testing and Services
http://www.wats.ca   1.866.932.4878 (North America)

> Yes, it seems we agree in general. My point (which is really
> Jonathan's) is that for people with learning disabilities, very often
>     McDonalds
> isn't sufficiently recognisable - the font and colours of the trademark
> are important. The point about the peepo site is that it uses simple,
> memorable graphics (re-inforced in some cases with sound - oh for SVG
> 1.2...) for navigation, so you can be helped through a couple of times
> until you recognise the links you need to get where you want to be.
> People actually live in the world, so are likely to be familiar with
> some standardised images - Michael Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Burger King,
> The London Underground, The Path Train, White Wings frozen meals, ...
> So clear enough ways of recognising what something is going to be, and
> memorable enough ways of finding things again, are important - both
> graphically and in written content. It seems correct tht WAI has done
> some work on how to do this for written content (although there is
> stilll confusion between a restriction on freedom of speech and an
> explanation of how to ensure that you can be understood if you would
> like to), but very little for graphics. People like Joe Clark have
> looked a bit at the available work on colours and typography, some of
> the "common sense stuff" made it into WCAG 1, but there does seem to be
> room for a lot more work on techniques.
> Cheers
> Chaals
> On Sunday, Jan 18, 2004, at 20:59 Europe/Rome, Tina Holmboe wrote:
> >> One way of making things easy is to provide identifiers. We are almost
> >
> >   Yes. I do not think that anyone would dispute that. However, the
> >   important point - which I have failed to make - is that the
> > identifier
> >   you provide must pass along enough information so that the user
> >   understands it.
> >
> >   This:
> >
> >> other hand, a giant yellow stylised M, in a particular font, on a red
> >> background, is allegedly the most recognised symbol in the world. A
> >
> >   actually took me a moment to grasp - I am sure I would have been
> >   quicker had I seen it. However, this:
> >
> >                                McDonalds
> >
> >   is also a form of graphical symbol, and easily as reckogniseable as
> >   the stylished M. The reason for this is that people know what
> >   McDonalds is. If they had not know it, they would not reckognise it.
> >
> --
> Charles McCathieNevile                          Fundación Sidar
> charles@sidar.org                                http://www.sidar.org
Received on Sunday, 18 January 2004 21:58:58 UTC

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