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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: <6.2.5.6.2.20080515152053.02db3eb0@esat.kuleuven.be>
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 
2.0.<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/wai-xtech/2008Apr/0184.html>

Members of the HTML WG have also suggested that a certain
accessibility expert was a "self-proclaimed expert"
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008May/0238.html>,
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"
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008May/0299.html>,
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?"
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008May/0251.html>,
...
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
<http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008May/0254.html>
that explains *why* @alt is a bolted-on feature.
The follow-up message, by contrast, explains the rationale clearly.

Best regards,

Christophe Strobbe


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Christophe Strobbe
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Research Group on Document Architectures
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Received on Thursday, 15 May 2008 14:36:54 GMT

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