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RE: Importance Of The DOM for Making the WWW An Accessible Platform

From: Denis Anson <danson@miseri.edu>
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 09:40:49 -0500
To: <raman@adobe.com>, <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>, <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NCBBJFEKMOPIHFHNBHMMAEPJCCAA.danson@miseri.edu>
Raman,

I think the message from the Wednesday Telecon was clear, and in part
supports what you are saying.  The manufacturers of AT devices were
virtually uniform in saying that they did not want to have to "special case"
each type of application: use one approach for browsers, a second for word
processors, and yet another for spread sheets.  They did not feel that DOM
gave them enough control over the application, but also that MSAA did not
give enough information about the document.

This suggests, although it is beyond the scope of this group, that what is
needed is a universal API that would provide information about, and
programmatic control of, the application, and information about, and the
ability to manipulate, the document that is contained within the
application.

In a previous message I suggested that the issues that are addressed by MSAA
are probably not substantially different from those of Java Accessibility,
and would not be entirely platform specific.  Hence, developments to the API
on one platform would suggest functionality that ought to be provided on
other platforms.

The bottom line, which is relevant, I think, to this working group, is that
exposing the DOM is probably not an adequate solution.  What is needed is
information about the document (perhaps via the DOM) and information about
the program, perhaps through an extension to MSAA, or similar interface.
But the DOM working group should consider how to make the DOM extensible, so
that other applications can use compatible information, thus minimizing
special casing of applications.

Denis Anson, MS, OTR

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ua-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ua-request@w3.org]On Behalf
Of T. V. Raman
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 1999 2:11 PM
To: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org; w3c-wai-pf@w3.org
Cc: raman@adobe.com
Subject: Importance Of The DOM for Making the WWW An Accessible Platform


I've been watching the discussion about the importance of
the DOM vs platform specific access APIs on the UA list and
would like to make a few observations with a view to making
sure we dont lose sight of the primary W3C/WAI focus.

I think it is a core responsibility of the W3C/WAI effort
to ensure that the evolving WWW platform develops into the
best possible platform for universal access--
and though the short-term solution to enabling access via
legacy user-agents may be for accessibility aids to rely on
platform-specific APIs, such reliance should not be used as
an excuse to thwart or discourage
a more universal, platform-independent accessibility
framework.

Today, there are platform specific access APIs --MSAA and
Java Access being the more notable among these--
both APIs have received considerable input from the
accessibility vendors and user communities over time.
There are also specific forums for getting input on and
discussing the benefits of these platform-specific APIs.

The WWW is  more than one vendor's browser or operating
system --it's more than one vendor's APIs--
The WWW is a vendor neutral platform for publishing
information today and infoware going forward.

The DOM is the underlying document model for the WWW
platform-- from an accessibility perspective, the
significance of the DOM to future accessibility far
outweighs the importance of any single platform-specific or
vendor-specific API.

If a specific browser or platform can offer access
functionality over and beyond what the DOM can offer today,
more power to that platform --and we should all
whole-heartedly applaud the efforts of said platform;
however, this should not be an excuse to twist the arms of
access vendors into providing accessibility exclusively
through platform-specific APIs-- nor should it be used as
the justification for discouraging developping appropriate
access relevant features in the DOM.

At the same time, if specific user agents choose not to
implement all of the DOM, market forces should be allowed to
decide if that user agent made the right business decision--
both with respect to accessibility-- as well as with respect
to the more generally relevant goals of interoperability on
the WWW. Similarly, if a specific adaptive aid chooses to
provide access functionality exclusively via
platform-specific APIs, that is again the decision of the
individual companies responsible for developping and
marketing said aid-- the market will decide whether such a
solution is tenable over the long term.

In short, the W3C/WAI primary goal is to ensure that the WWW
is accessible-- not focus exclusively on any single platform
or user-agent-- let's make sure we dont lose sight of the
forest while crawling through the weeds on the ground.

--
Best Regards,
--raman

      Adobe Systems                 Tel: 1 408 536 3945   (W14-128)
      Advanced Technology Group     Fax: 1 408 537 4042
      W14-128 345 Park Avenue     Email: raman@adobe.com
      San Jose , CA 95110 -2704     Email:  raman@cs.cornell.edu
      http://labrador.corp.adobe.com/~raman/        (Adobe Intranet)
      http://cs.cornell.edu/home/raman/raman.html    (Cornell)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are my own and in no way should be
taken
as representative of my employer, Adobe Systems Inc.
____________________________________________________________
Received on Friday, 12 February 1999 09:39:41 UTC

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