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Re: [html4all] HTML5 Alternative Text, and Authoring Tools

From: Christophe Strobbe <christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be>
Date: Thu, 15 May 2008 16:35:59 +0200
Message-Id: <>
To: wai-xtech@w3.org

At 22:08 14/05/2008, Henri Sivonen wrote:

>On May 13, 2008, at 12:50, Christophe Strobbe wrote:
>>"Alt is one of the bolted on things."
>>This one goes straight to the hall of shame.
>>(The alt attribute is not perfect - being an attribute, it doesn't
>>allow markup inside it - but it is not "bolted on".)
>You didn't substantiate your assertion. Instead, you tried to shame me.
>The tactic of trying to shame people into accepting what you are
>saying without you giving an explanation that they can follow to
>verify the conclusion may be a successful tactic in some contexts, but
>one would hope that by now it would be clear that it's a tactic that
>is not working with many HTML WG participants. When it's not working,
>the effect just is that it creates an unpleasant working environment
>and perhaps makes people want to avoid accessibility topics.

The tactic of adopting a holier-than-thou attitude to shame people
into accepting what you are saying may be a successful tactic in
some contexts, but one would hope that by now it would be clear that
it's a tactic that is not working with most participants on the
WAI-XTech mailing list. When it's not working, the effect just is
that it creates an unpleasant working environment and perhaps
makes people want to avoid HTML 5 topics.

On 14 April 2008, a certain Henri Sivonen of the HTML WG claimed
I was "clinging onto a dogma" [the dogma that @alt should
remain a required attribute?] even though I have never taken a
position in the discussion for or against making @alt optional,
but only clarified certain points with reference to WCAG 

Members of the HTML WG have also suggested that a certain
accessibility expert was a "self-proclaimed expert"
that accessibility advocates can't really be trusted to "formulate
syntactic requirements in such a way that the requirements don't
induce unwanted effects when exposed in a machine checker to
potentially uninformed users or to users who don't share the goals
of the accessibility advocates"
asked: "Are you already giving up on promoting the other issues
covered by WCAG 2.0 while taking what you feel is the most important
bit and masquerading it as something else?"
Need I go on?

I am being asked to live up to a standard that HTML WG members,
including Mr Sivonen, have ignored on several occasions.
One knee-jerk reaction from me and I get lectured about "shaming
people into accepting what I am saying"...
So I apologize for stooping to the level that has repeatedly been
adopted by some HTML WG members.

>[Henri Sivonen also wrote:]
>I think in order to properly analyze what's going on, we need to set
>aside how we wish the world to be and examine how it is. I didn't say
>alt is bolted on for the sake of disagreeing. I think the realization
>is crucial for understanding why alt continues to be an issue. There
>are accessibility features with which you author once for all
>modalities. These don't even feel like accessibility features, because
>you get accessibility for "free". These features have accessibility
>built in. Then there are features that require dual authoring because
>authoring once doesn't cover some mode of presentation/interaction.
>These features bolt accessibility on. The trouble is getting people to
>do dual authoring. Therefore, other things being equal (and they
>rarely are), we should favor feature designs that you author once for.
>This is what HTML5 is doing with e.g. <progress> and Web Forms 2.0.
>Alt is one of the things that require dual authoring and images will
>need it for the foreseeable future in order to be accessible. But alt
>is such an issue precisely because it's bolt-on. Vehemently asserting
>otherwise doesn't help in understanding what's actually going on and
>in making language design decisions.

Indeed, vehemently asserting X or Y doesn't help, just like Mr. Sivonen's
original statement about @alt sounded like a vehement assertion instead
of a reasoned argument. I did not see anything in
that explains *why* @alt is a bolted-on feature.
The follow-up message, by contrast, explains the rationale clearly.

Best regards,

Christophe Strobbe

Please don't invite me to LinkedIn, Facebook, Quechup or other 
"social networks". You may have agreed to their "privacy policy", but 
I haven't.

Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Dept. of Electrical Engineering - SCD
Research Group on Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 bus 2442
B-3001 Leuven-Heverlee
tel: +32 16 32 85 51

Disclaimer: http://www.kuleuven.be/cwis/email_disclaimer.htm
Received on Thursday, 15 May 2008 14:36:54 UTC

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