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RE: artistic expression was: What now ALT?

From: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2007 12:59:06 -0700
To: "'\"~:'' ????????????\"'" <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>
Cc: "'advocate group'" <list@html4all.org>, "'www-archive'" <www-archive@w3.org>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <00af01c806c1$09a719e0$0301a8c0@Piglet>

Jonathan Chetwynd wrote:
> Our students are pre-literate, or learning to read, however screen
> readers are not generally helpful. They do benefit from symbols and
> illustrations.  


I have known you and respected your work in the area of cognitive
disabilities for many years now.  Could it not be possible however that
symbols with alternative text, in conjunction with a voicing application,
could/would actually benefit your user-base?  Would not "speaking aloud" a
symbol or other illustration re-enforce the multi-modal learning experience?

As well, given the fact that these users might possibly be accessing content
with help from others, alternative text for these helpers could/would be of
benefit as well, no?  While addressing the needs of your core constituency
often requires moving outside of the norm (something that took me a long
time to fully understand), incorporating Universal access principles, so
long as they do not negatively impact on the core audience, cannot be wrong
can it?  What harm does providing alternative text cause to the illiterate?

> My guess is that not many readers on this list would feel competent
> to illustrate a creative work. That is not merely to illustrate the
> word "car", but to convey the meaning of say "Waiting for Godot" or
> "The Birthday Party" through illustration.   
> http://www.magpiedance.org.uk/magpol-library/s0/1.html
> This slide show, will I hope convey to each one of you some of that
> wonder, which the creator felt unable himself to use words.

Jonathan, these are indeed inspirational photos, and certainly ones that
would task the content creator when applying alternative text.  However, an
appropriate combination of alt text and LONGDESC descriptions could attempt
to convey the wonder and joy that these photos convey.  *NOBODY* says that
it is always simple and easy, but without textual equivalents, how can the
spirit of these photos be conveyed to those that cannot see?  Clearly,
describing "The Mona Lisa" and this photo
[http://www.magpiedance.org.uk/magpol-library/s0/2.html] requires hard work,
but if you had to describe that photo, for the sake of alternative text,
requires (to my mind anyway) a distanced and surgical eye: alt="two of the
[magpie dance project] students in an embrace": concise, accurate and unique
- if you wished to also include a longer description, the HTML means to do
so exists (LONGDESC).  My creative writing skills sadly are not up to the
task at this moment, but I'm sure that a wonderful prose statement could be
generated that would attempt to convey the spirit of that wonderful photo.

> We would be delighted for anyone who felt capable to provide suitable
> alt content. 
> content that wasn't merely box ticking but inspirational.

Providing anything useful, even if incomplete, is not "box ticking", it's
attempting to provide an alternative.  Providing *no* description at all
simply says that certain users are not worth catering too... Surely you
cannot believe that?

Received on Thursday, 4 October 2007 19:59:30 UTC

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