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ALT, <video>, and a different point of view

From: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 16:06:09 -0700
To: "'Ian Hickson'" <ian@hixie.ch>
Cc: "'advocate group'" <list@html4all.org>, <www-archive@w3.org>
Message-ID: <009501c7f0da$832d0150$643d42ab@Piglet>

<Hixie> if anyone wants to reply to
http://html4all.org/pipermail/list_html4all.org/2007-September/000198.html
(also at http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2007Sep/0014.html)
then feel free to, i can't see what else i can say to explain why his
approach isn't going to have the best accessibility impact. 

*******

Ian, I don't need or want explanations, I need and want proof (exactly the
same thing you demand of me and others).  

The HTML5 WG keeps insisting on this from outsiders; it is only reasonable
to ask the same back. You've explained your idea and position clearly (and
repeatedly), I disagree and am now asking you to back up your claims.
*PROVE* my approach is worse off than yours.  Answer the specific questions
I have continually posed so that there is no ambiguity.  To whit:

1) you made the statement: "Anything they add (filename, tags, title,
comments, EXIF data) would actually be _worse_ than simply not having any
alt text", to which I asked how you came to this: please point out the
specification, user-study, quoted authority or independently verifiable
source to support this claim.  Where is the data?

2) you talk of "advanced heuristics designed by accessibility experts" -
what heuristics? I have a color picture on my desk that is 5" X 3" -
describe it... Without author supplied information, it is mind-reading or
pure guesswork.  

Which accessibility experts?  

Having worked in the web accessibility field since 1999, I have a fairly
good knowledge of the significant authorities in this field, I know many of
them personally. So far I have listed off a bunch of names who are *not*
involved in the current HTML5 work (and I know some that are), but there are
other experts out there, I know that too.  Give me a name, please - one
name:    

Perhaps someone within the W3C?  
Somebody within US ADA/Section 508? 
Somebody at the American Foundation for the Blind [www.afb.org], National
Federation of the Blind [http://nfb.org] or the RNIB in the UK
[www.rnib.org.uk]? 

Or WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) in Boston?
[http://ncam.wgbh.org/]  
Perhaps Cynthia Waddell at ICDRI? [www.icdri.org/]
Loďc Martínez Normand at Fundación Sidar?[ www.sidar.org]    

Andrew Kirkpatrick or Bob Regan at Adobe? [http://tinyurl.com/yuo869]
Or Richard Schwerdtfeger from IBM?
[http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/443/bruneaut.html#Schwerdtfeger]  
Victor Tsaran at Yahoo!? [http://tinyurl.com/266ex6]
 
Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden of the Trace R&D Center? [http://trace.wisc.edu] or
Dr. Jon Gunderson at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?
[https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/jongund/www/] or  Dr. John Slatin from the
Accessibility Institute / University of Texas?
[www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility/] or Jared Smith at WebAIM?
[www.webaim.org] or somebody at Knowbility? [www.knowbility.org]

Perhaps someone within the (UK) Guild of Accessible Web Developers?
[www.gawds.org] or a regular contributor to the Accessify Forum
[www.accessifyforum.com] (or the forum collectively?)

Maybe Julie Howell [http://www.juliehowell.co.uk/] Mike Paciello?[
www.paciellogroup.com] Shawn Henry? [http://www.w3.org/People/Shawn/] Paul
Bohman? [www.paulbohman.com] Chuck Letourneau?
[http://www.w3.org/WAI/wcag-curric/author.htm#cl] Kynn Bartlett?
[http://www.icdri.org/Kynn/kynn_bartlett.htm]

I mean, you did consult somebody, right?  Which web accessibility expert
suggested to you (personally or collectively) that there is a time when
having no alt at all might be considered less harmful than alt=""?  I will
then politely ask this expert for their data supporting the claim... (as I
have repeatedly done with the HTML5 WG). If there are statistics out there
that proves this, we want to see and share in them; it is important
information.

3) you state: "Specifying alt="" on a critical image is actively *harmful*
to accessibility. That's exactly what we *don't* want to encourage!" to
which, once again I request that you point to the definitive source of this
claim.  (Allowing, via the spec, for a critical image to have no alt is
equally *harmful* - how can one be less harmful than the other?)  You say
that the spec details when alt can be omitted, and when it cannot; these
are, however, subjective deciding parameters open to "debate".  It stops
being a spec and becomes a guideline, one of the key criticisms of WCAG 1.

4) <video> - On one hand you point to stats that show that LONGDESC is
misused and/or so poorly used that it should be dropped, and then you
suggest that most authors will write:

	<p><video src="monkey.mpeg" controls></video></p>
      <p><a href="monkey.mpeg">Download the Monkey video</a>.</p>

Seriously Ian, you believe this?  If we can't get them to provide
appropriate alt text (never mind LONGDESC) today, what on god's green earth
leads you to believe that all of a sudden they will add an extra line of
text "<p><a href="monkey.mpeg">Download the Monkey video</a>.</p>" - because
Ian Hickson spoke thus?  Please...

I put forth a suggestion, one based upon current specs and existing
cowpaths.  If it is not workable, state the technical reasons why not, and
provide an alternative.  As I currently see "<video src="monkey.mpeg"
controls></video>" today, I see *NOTHING* in there that allows for
alternative formats, supplemental text, or any other accessibility
consideration.  I wrote to Lachlan (and CC'd you) regarding autostart -
maybe I've got it, maybe I don't, but at least I brought it up - I don't see
anything about it in the spec.

However, at the end of the day, you, like I, must support our claims.  We've
both tried explaining it, but the rubber needs to meet the road somewhere:
prove what you state is fact (as opposed to your opinion) using exactly the
same criteria you expect of me and others.

What is so hard in that?

Respectfully,
JF
Received on Thursday, 6 September 2007 23:06:28 GMT

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