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Does the Cascade hurt accessbility?

From: Paul Prescod <papresco@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 1997 10:16:53 -0400
Message-ID: <335F6B55.583AE43F@calum.csclub.uwaterloo.ca>
To: www-style@w3.org
I have argued that the cascade does not help accesibility because it
requires the reader to know in advance what classes or GIs the target
document will use. If they know those in advance they can just write a
stylesheet (perhaps based on an existing stylesheet). Cascading cannot
automatically make it easy for a colourblind person to see documents
that depend on the colours that he or she cannot see. He or she must
either a) apply a meta-stylesheet or ask the UA to do so (the most
reasonable solution, in my opinion) or b) interactively override the
known stylesheet when it becomes known. This is a pain in the butt, but
may be necessary in some cases.

The danger in CSS is that the myth of author/reader balance will cause
authors to stop thinking about accessiblity in the design of their
stylesheets and in the deployment of CLASS sets and DTDs. Those with a
fuzzy understanding of cascading will argue: "I don't have to do
anything special, the cascade puts the reader in charge." The truth is
that authors can make readers' lives hellish. Just as in the bad old
days of <FONT ...>, authors must take responsibility. Readers should
only have to take control as a last resort.

There is no author/reader balance: the authors have complete control
over the initial display of the document (barring meta-stylesheets) and
the reader has complete control over its final display (through
overrides). It is the author's responsibility to make the road from one
to the other short through parameterization, relative fonts etc.

 Paul Prescod
Received on Thursday, 24 April 1997 10:10:58 GMT

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