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Summary of SSML/I18N bidi issues/positions

From: Daniel Burnett <burnett@nuance.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 22:43:19 -0700
Message-ID: <ED834EE1FDD6C3468AB0F5569206E6E9364BDF@MPB1EXCH02.nuance.com>
To: "Richard Ishida" <ishida@w3.org>, "Martin Duerst" <duerst@w3.org>, <jim@larson-tech.com>, <luc.vantichelen@scansoft.com>
Cc: <scott.mcglashan@pipebeach.com>, <jerry.carter@scansoft.com>, <paolo.baggia@loquendo.com>, <jk@us.ibm.com>, <www-archive@w3.org>, <w3c-i18n-ig@w3.org>


Here is my attempt to summarize the issues and/or positions
around the bidi topic discussed Thursday.  Please forgive me
if I have misstated a position.

Motivation for this discussion:
For accessibility reasons, many W3C markup languages are
a) required to ensure that authors *can* write documents using
 the markup language in such a way as to *guarantee* that the
 content of the document can be rendered visually, and
b) encouraged to be designed in a way such that visual rendering
 of *any* content marked up with that language is possible.
Of course, W3C has a strong interest in ensuring that their markup
languages work equally well for all human languages in order to
avoid unnecessary language/cultural bias and to provide the
broadest usability for the specifications.

Combinations of text segments from different human languages
 that are typically rendered visually in different directions
 (right-to-left or left-to-right) are referred to as
 bidirectional or bidi text.

Martin's claims: (hope I got this right!)
1. Current algorithms to visually render bidi text using only
 a) the text itself and
 b) indications of the language of each segment are imperfect.
2. The addition of Unicode representations of text directionality
 to the above is still insufficient to render such text perfectly.
3. To ensure correct visual rendering of a marked-up document
 for all human languages, explicit directionality indicators
 must be provided as part of the markup (and hence be a part
 of the markup language itself).
4. Bidi controls in (X)HTML may provide this functionality for
 specifications that need it.

SSML group claims/statements:
1. This is a general issue for many of W3C's specifications and
 is in no way unique to SSML.
2. Current solutions presented for this (e.g. XHTML elements/attributes)
 are incomplete because they were not designed to work  for all
 XML-based specifications.
3. If important to W3C, this issue should be addressed by work
 that explicitly incorporates feedback and requirements from
 all specifications that may conceivably be expected to provide
 this functionality now or in the near future.  It should *not*
 be done as a one-off discussion between the SSML group and the
 I18N group.
4. The SSML group will be happy to incorporate the results of
 any such comprehensive effort into its specifications when available.
5. It is irresponsible to the speech industry and W3C to require
 the development and/or implemention of non-comprehensive interim
 solutions for bidirectionality or to force the progress of the
 current specification to halt until the comprehensive effort
 described is complete.

-- Dan Burnett
SSML subgroup Chair
Received on Friday, 19 September 2003 01:43:31 UTC

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