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Re: Alt is not a description (was Re: when to use longdesc for images)

From: Léonie Watson <lw@nomensa.com>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 17:26:41 -0000
Message-ID: <00bd01c4e783$ee209020$3c02a8c0@intranet.nomensa.com>
To: "Patrick Lauke" <P.H.Lauke@salford.ac.uk>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Patrick Lauke wrote:-
    "Again, the question here really is: what purpose do all the decorations
and other visual cues have? Is it really that relevant to a blind user
to know that the typeface used is Helvetica Neue rather than Cooper Black,
that it's all soft pastels rather than day-glo primary colours, if the
relevant associations and emotional responses that these visual cues were
used for are also present, in different form, in other parts of the 
page/site?"

    If the blind person has a visual recollection of what helvetica looks 
like, as opposed to any other type face, then they can bring this to mind to 
appreciate the look and feel that the designer intended.

    A site displayed in pastel shades evokes a specific atmosphere, which is 
relevant whether the page is being looked at or imagined in a person's mind.

    Of course, if the emotional cues can be found elsewhere, then it may not 
be as desireable to have access to these elements, but if they are not 
expressed anywhere else, and I don't know of many sites that provide a text 
based description of their logo and branding, then being able to appreciate 
this information indeed has a value.


    Many screen readers can already pick up much of this information, 
particularly regarding type face, text colour and so forth. Graphics are of 
course a different matter. If a description of what Andy called 'mood 
setting images' is provided by the designer, it leaves the choice with the 
user as to whether they stop and listen to it or not.

    The point being that just because a person is blind doesn't mean to say 
they can't visualise and that is a choice they should be given.


    An example of where this access to visual information is important, but 
sadly missing, is at the CSS Zen Garden:
http://www.csszengarden.com//

    Although many of the visual effects are held in the background rather 
than in the content itself, the point remains that it is not possible to 
appreciate the ethos and atmosphere projected by each design if you are 
visually impaired.

    The relevance of visual information will naturally vary from site to 
site and person to person, but the notion that visually impaired people are 
not interested in imagery is simply not the case across the board.

Léonie.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Patrick Lauke" <P.H.Lauke@salford.ac.uk>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2004 2:56 PM
Subject: RE: Alt is not a description (was Re: when to use longdesc for 
images)


>
>> From: Léonie Watson
> [...]
>>     Not all visually impaired people have always been that way. An
>> appropriate alternate description of a decorative image can
>> conjur up a
>> picture as desireable
> [...]
>>     If the image of the house serves no purpose, then it
>> probably shouldn't
>> be there. If it serves the purpose of adding colour and vivacity to a
>> document, then there is absolutely no reason why both sighted and non
>> sighted users shouldn't participate in that emotive aspect.
>
> Taking this to the extreme, though, visually impaired users may then
> also want to know what typeface is used for headings, body copy, etc, what
> colours, what patterns, what type of layout, etc
>
> Again, the question here really is: what purpose do all the decorations
> and other visual cues have? Is it really that relevant to a blind user
> to know that the typeface used is Helvetica Neue rather than Cooper Black,
> that it's all soft pastels rather than day-glo primary colours, if the
> relevant associations and emotional responses that these visual cues were
> used for are also present, in different form, in other parts of the 
> page/site?
>
> Debatable, and it would strongly depend on exploring *why* users are 
> coming
> to a particular site (compare a bank website versus an art site, for 
> instance).
>
> Anyway, my GBP0.02
>
> Patrick
> ________________________________
> Patrick H. Lauke
> Webmaster / University of Salford
> http://www.salford.ac.uk
> 
Received on Tuesday, 21 December 2004 17:38:58 GMT

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