W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > July to September 2011

RE: Web video accessibility

From: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 2011 18:45:39 -0700 (PDT)
To: <accessys@smart.net>
Cc: "'EmbedPlus'" <ext@embedplus.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <01b101cc5c7f$5dd2cd80$19786880$@edu>
accessys@smart.net wrote:
> was not trying to embarass anyone but it does bother me when folks say
> things are "accessible" when in fact the accessibility is limited. 

The inaccessibility you speak of is also directly linked to your personal
choice in software. You choose to use a text-only browser (Lynx) that by
design does not support binary content natively. The lack of
inaccessibility here is inherent in the software you are using: it is a
"shortcoming" of Lynx and not of EmbedPlus.

> I
> would have been thrilled and have told them so if the you tube video
> had played with a discription.

Have you *ever* managed to get YouTube to play in Lynx? Stop playing games
Bob, you and I have been on this list long enough to know each other, and
your hard-line approach to what constitutes "accessible" is not a
mainstream position. 

There is a not-unreasonable assumption that users must also strive to keep
up with current technologies, and this has nothing to do with "cost" -
there are multiple browsers available for Linux that *do* support
multimedia content (Firefox and Opera being at least 2 that I have used
personally), and had you chosen to use either of those with EmbedPlus, and
provided useful feedback with regard to those user-agents I would not be
writing this today. It is unreasonable however to expect a rock to float,
or for all web-based content today to render in a text-only browser.

> "propaganda" may have been a bit strong but when all I get when I try
> to use it is them saying how great it works, but nothing works.

You were being deliberately provocative in an attempt to make a point. If
you want to seriously test whether you can access support materials for
binary content, then use the appropriate tools to do so. Your feedback was
not helpful, it was antagonistic, obtuse, and politically motivated.

> I test using a basic system that a person with
> little or no money might use (remember 70% of people with disabilities
> live below the poverty level.) testing can't just be for the latest and
> greatest and most modern equipment because that isn't what most people
> have.

Nice attempt at re-direction Bob, but the last time I checked, there were
many, many open-source browsers for the Linux platform that do not require
the latest and greatest, and the price for hardware has come down
considerably: just this past weekend I was able to purchase a used Dell
desktop machine, Pentium 4 chip, 200 Gig HD, 100 Gigs of RAM, monitor,
keyboard and mouse for a paltry $100.00 - AND it came loaded with Windows
XP. Converting that machine to Linux would take all of about half a day
and then I could run any of Firefox, Opera, Konqueror, Galeon, or Amaya,
to name but FIVE choices of browsers that support multi-media content. You
might think you are able to bamboozle some, but your argument is
paper-thin to non-existent here.

> maybe I'm wrong but when someone asks for a test I assume

You assume that you will have yet another opportunity to get on your
Open-Source soap-box and rail your fist at the audacity of software
developers wanting to make a living writing software. Again, you and I
have been on this list a very, very long time - I've heard it from you
numerous times in the past. I'm surprised you didn't also take this
opportunity to take a pot-shot at Flash as well...

> they want to
> know what works and doesn't work, lots of you guys will test the high
> end but only a couple of us will test from the average.

Running Lynx on Linux today is hardly average, in fact it is at best an
edge-case, and failing to admit that is *your* issue, it shouldn't be the
software developer's issue. 

> I use a special
> detuned if you will setup to test and it is a basic package that is
> avaliable at little or no cost to anyone and can run on an older
> computer.

As previously noted I could also set up a little-to-no cost system that
would perform very well, and would run a browser that supported YouTube
and presumably EmbedPlus. However you chose not to use those tools, and
instead set up a test that was guaranteed to fail, so that you could then
make a 'point'.

> I mean no harm to EmbedPlus they are trying but a little "truth in
> advertising" would have helped. 

They are 'advertising' an enhancement to YouTube, and you are judging that
enhancement on a browser that has zero support for YouTube (via Flash) or
any other binary format. And you want "truth in advertising"? Give me a

If you have constructive suggestions on how they might better author their
product description, you should have said so nicely. You didn't, you
played a game about how it wasn't working and pasted text into your email
and had their developers (and not their sales/business folk) chase after
something that was not necessary to worry about. It wasn't clever, it was
mean-spirited and produced zero benefit.

> so far there isn't a single product out
> there that will provide a full range of access to everyone,

...and there likely never will be. For example, high-contrast text content
is good for low-vision users, but actually makes it harder for dyslexic
users (for example) who benefit from lower contrast ratios. The judicious
use of iconography can hugely benefit those users with cognitive
impairments, yet can equally be a problem for non-sighted users. You can't
have perfect Bob, it doesn't exist.

> so stating
> what it will do and what it won't is important.

Yet that consideration was not kindly nor clearly stated; instead you
played a game of cat and mouse, and only after having EmbedPlus express
concern did you admit that you had no expectations of it ever working as
you were using Lynx. Shame on you.

And as a side-question: do daily users of Lynx *really* need to be told
that Lynx doesn't support Flash or YouTube videos? Really? The moment you
knew this had something to do with video on the web, you saw it as an
opportunity to try and make a point - and I'm calling you on *that*.

> personally the internet was far more accessible 25years ago than it is
> today, but it was very limited, all of the bells and whistles that
> makes
> the web so enticing to so many also has a disadvantage of excluding
> many.

That truly depends on how you a) measure "access" and accessible, and b)
what your expectations of web content is. 

25 years ago (when there was no "web"; the World Wide Web celebrating its
20th anniversary this month - August 6, 1991*) you had text-based systems
such as UseNet or IRC, but history and science march on, and today we have
a plethora of multi-media assets being delivered to end users over the
world wide web (via http/rtsp) using GUI-based user-agents (browsers), and
significant strides are being made to ensure that this content too is as
accessible as it can be to most users. Is it perfect? Not by a long shot.
Are people trying hard? Some are, some aren't - the world can be a cruel

EmbedPlus came forth as some of those who are trying to make things
better, and instead of showing some appreciation and respect for what they
are attempting to do, you make it an opportunity to go on another of your
"if I can't get it to work in Lynx it's not accessible" diatribes. That's
not right Bob, no matter how firmly held your personal opinions: your net
effect was not 'encouraging', but rather discouraging. Why should
non-disabled developers even bother to try and make things better when
they are greeted with the kind of negative response you posted? 

> isn't it our mission to make sure that the web excludes no one, for as
> soon as we exclude one we open the door to exclude all.

What you seemingly fail to realize here is that with the right kind of
feedback and encouragement, tools such as EmbedPlus actually serve to
bridge the gap between those who can fully access YouTube videos and many
of those who can't due to auditory impairments, cognitive issues or other
disabilities. It isn't perfect, and made no claim of such, (in fact Tay
was looking for practical feedback on how he could improve things) but for
those users it could be targeted towards it narrows the gap between
inclusion and exclusion. It just doesn't work on Lynx. Get over it.

Climbing down off his soap box as well

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_World_Wide_Web 
Received on Wednesday, 17 August 2011 01:46:18 UTC

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