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Public vs. Private information

From: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006 13:56:36 -0800
To: <gawds_discuss@yahoogroups.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <010b01c70cee$c32bdd10$c38f40ab@Piglet>

Polling for some ideas / opinions.

The scenario:
Database search returns back a large chunk of data about a person - some of
this data is public, but other bits are "private", and requires
authentication (logged in) for it to be exposed.  The issue however is that
the query subject (person) gets to decide what is public and what is
private, so the field returns are variable; for example I can choose to list
my cellular number as public or private, but the choice is up to me.  I may
choose public but my associate may choose private.

The problem:
The issue is how to denote what is public and what is private to
authenticated users (who are seeing both), given that for many (most) of the
individual field returns it can be either.

The on-screen return must match results each time (order), so dynamically
grouping the public stuff and the private stuff unfortunately won't work.

In the paper prototypes, the designer is displaying the public content in a
bold font and the private content in regular font (<strong>Public
Data</strong>), along with text that explains:
"Information in bold is in this person's public profile.  All other
information is available to you as an authenticated user." (I wish I could
show you, but the examples are behind the wall)

Needless to say I am uncomfortable about this, as it is relying on a mostly
visual display to convey supplemental information.  However I am drawing a
blank on ways of achieving the requirement that also meet accessibility
guidelines, short of adding a "private" icon with appropriate alt text at
the end of each private result.  This could conceivably produce a page with
12 - 20 "private icons", an issue in it's own right.

If anyone has dealt with a similar scenario, I would be curious how you
resolved the issue (a link would be awesome!), however even if you have
never dealt with this, if you have an idea or opinion I'm open to both.

Thanks in advance.

John Foliot 
Academic Technology Specialist 
Stanford Online Accessibility Program
Stanford University
560 Escondido Mall 
Meyer Library 181 
Stanford, CA 94305-3093 
Received on Monday, 20 November 2006 21:57:18 UTC

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