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Re: Can User Agents adopt the lists that screen readers so eleqently do?

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2004 20:18:19 -0500
Message-ID: <000b01c415f4$e4731f90$6401a8c0@handsontech>
To: <sdale@stevendale.com>, <lists@zstudio.co.uk>
Cc: <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Steven and all who may have joined us late,

I have said this before on this list and I will say it again here in this 
context.  First, there are quite a variety of at out there and asking people 
to test them by learning and using them is considered by many to be way too 
much.  The guidelines that became the wcag took a long time to develop and 
at the time were the most deffinitive shot we had at making the web a better 
place.  We do discuss among our selvs here on this list from time to time 
ways to make things better and in fact, as you may know an effort to publish 
a new set of guidelines has been under way for quite some time.  If you have 
time and energy, your expertise would be extremely helpful in this regard. 
There are many factors that go into producing a set of voluntary guidelines 
especially by group consensus and so the current wcag and its children will 
flow from that consensus as well.  Section 508 is a different animal in that 
there were considerations which at least for the web portion limitted what 
was thought to be acceptable as a standard due to the slipery nature of the 
slopes that were covered in some of the guidelines.  The pre amble of the 
standard explains this so I won't go into a lot of detail here.

I want to end by saying that if you don't use at on a daily basis, there 
isn't much you can really know about how it works.  Please check the 
archives of this and other public wai lists for more back ground than I can 
remember or provide in this space.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steven Dale" <sdale@stevendale.com>
To: <lists@zstudio.co.uk>
Cc: <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>; <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Monday, March 29, 2004 6:25 PM
Subject: Re: Can User Agents adopt the lists that screen readers so 
eleqently do?

LOL  When I received David's message, I shuddered than burst out laughing.
 No disrespect towards David,  it was the whole point of coming full cirle
over the weekend.  I originally sent an email suggesting more skip type
links through the entire page to skip to different sections.  I knew I was
going to get some flack back, but made the post anyway.  Because it is a
needed solution for the here and now.  Anyway, many suggested that we dont
need skip navigation because headers could be caught by the user agents
for header navigation.  So I then asked if anyone knew of development in
that area.  Now, asking that got David's reply saying that headings arent
being used. (which I knew :) but wanted to make a point of having someone
else state it this time.)  Now I am an accessibility consultant and know
how to make pages accessible.  But what does this show to the "masses".
We, the so-called experts are going around in circles here.  Where are the
masses going to get the correct information?  Which is correct?  Skip
links or Navigation? or both?  THERE IS NO CONSENSUS among us.  What d0
you expect the masses AND Microsoft etc. to do?  Build websites and tools
to do accessiblity only to find out they took the wrong turn?  They arent
going to waste their time and money until there is a direction to go that
the majority back.  WCAG and 508 and the other guidelines are a good
start.  But they are just that... guidelines.  Too specific in some ways,
too general in others.  I used to work on Bell Labs specifications when I
was a real-time embedded system telecom software engineer.  There were
similar rouind trips there too.  But we didnt expect any action on a
specification until we felt comfortable with going in a certain direction
and then went that way... ALL of us experts.  We made a few mistakes and
corrected them, but we didnt publish 3 different ways to go.  I am not
going to beat around the bush here,  and have my aesbestos suit on,  (deep
breath)  Ok, disclaimer,  I am not pointing fingers at any one person,
And I like the thoughtfull emails on the list so far.  But, who is making
these directions that we are to go towards Accessibility?  Developers and
companies who want to help the people with disabilities?  Are there any
non disabled people that for example write ideas on how to make websites
screen reader accessible that have never REALLY used a screen reader?  I
mean, really used it.  Not just tested the site with one.  For example,
how does one find out which cell in a data table he/she is currently in?
That is a simple question if you have really used one for reading a
website.  My point is that there are a lot of well meaning people here who
could benefit by taking some time to actually play with and use the
accessibility tools we write our websites to accomidate.  Instead of
taking the road of well, html spec says so and so, and this looks logical
to so lets do it this way, use the AT tools we write for and give input on
how accessible things are or are not in websites.  Then, go about making
them accessible.  When we then have a clear and concise direction,  the
world will join us.  UNTIL THEN THE WORLD WILL WAIT.

Hope I didnt step on too many toes... I am a horrible dancer LOL  I just
thought I would give my perspective of an old standards guy in a field
similar that is coming into this field and answering the question of why
businesses and the "masses" arent beating the door down for accessiblity.
At least as I see it.

Down off my soapbox, sorry for any bruised toes and feelings.

Ian Anderson said:
>> > Actually, I wonder if User Agents could offer a list of
>> links/headings with the capability of setting the focus to a
>> selected link/header in
> the
>> Some do.  However the typical commercial web page has no headings (and
>> historically used headings as a font size control).
> This is true, but not necessarily a problem. Let's look forward, not
> back. More and more web designers are getting the idea of proper HTML
> structure and I remain optimistic about the future for professional
> sites.
> At the risk of going on a tangent, what worries me isn't just the vast
> amount of legacy information that's tied up in tag soup out there, but
> also the difficulty of helping home users to publish on the web in a
> manner that works well from an accessibility standpoint. Some of the
> best content on the web is published by individuals without any
> background in web accessibility or web design; this was the point of the
> web after all. We need easy-to-use publishing tools for the masses (no
> disrespect intended to the masses here :) that do decent accessibility
> out of the box.
> Has anyone thought of doing the same sort of thing for accessibility
> that the Web Standards Project did for web design? Pressure needs to be
> brought on Microsoft and other key vendors to pay more than lip service
> to web accessibility in their publishing tools for business and home
> users as well as web professionals.
> Take care
> Ian Anderson
> zStudio
Received on Monday, 29 March 2004 20:19:06 UTC

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