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

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 15:13:31 +0100
Message-Id: <A8DD7D48-4A89-11D8-9125-000A958826AA@sidar.org>
Cc: "WAI Interest Group" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
To: "John Foliot - WATS.ca" <foliot@wats.ca>


On 19 Jan 2004, at 03:58, John Foliot - WATS.ca wrote:

> 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...

Quite. But people who live at the mouth of the Hudson often know what 
the Path is, or at least recognise the funny symbol that marks 
stations. White Wings is a brand name created by a guy who started 
marketing frozen food in the 30s (if I recall correctly). Both of them 
are things that people can recognise if they are important or 
interesting to them - like the phrase "moi, je m'en fous de ca"

> 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.

Very valid point - images are like words. They are tools for 
communication, and context is important in interpretation, along with 
people's experience.

> 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 agree absolutely with this entire paragraph. I also use a text only 
browser almost every day, have done for 7 years, and don't expect to 
change (my use recently increased because the browser on my phone is 
now a viable tool in text-only mode, in addition to attaching Lynx to 
my main mail client as primary browser).

> 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.

Neither plain text (note that the only languages I know of that can be 
written in ASCII are elementary english for beginners, bahasa indonesi 
and bahasa melayu) nor images are a universal replacement for the 
other. There are good reasons why Lego sets, cars, video recorders, 
computers, basic chemistry programs, aircraft repair courses and 
missile silos don't come with plain-text-only instructions - text is 
not the most accessible form of conveying many common ideas, except 
within a small community who use the same written language.

I think it is well-understood by the people on this list that some 
people actually rely on text, and need to have at least one version of 
their material available in text. The point is there are also many 
people for whom the text is interesting decoration used by other 
people. For such people the images aren't an "enhancer", they are 
critical to accessibility.

(I've oversimplified here. On the one hand many blind and deaf-blind 
people use a sense of touch to determine information, including things 
like relief diagrams, in preference to text for certain tasks. But not 
all of those are easily adapted to the Web - although I'd like to point 
out to anyone who reads french Patrick Roth and to a lesser extent Lori 
Petrucci's work in this area. On the other hand, many non-readers can 
make use  of text information to augment their understanding of an 
image, if the text is presented in a comprehensible form - for example 
read out as audio. I don't think it changes the basic argument).

Cheers

Chaals
Received on Monday, 19 January 2004 09:27:19 UTC

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