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Re: storing info in XSL-FO: new issue? [was: Draft TAG Finding:...]

From: Elliotte Rusty Harold <elharo@metalab.unc.edu>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 10:23:18 -0400
Message-Id: <p04330102b9894f332d97@[192.168.254.4]>
To: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@niksula.hut.fi>, www-style@w3.org

At 8:13 AM +0300 8/21/02, Henri Sivonen wrote:


>Would you consider replying to you in Chinese to be a successful 
>instance of human communication?

It's not a yes-or-no answer. Replying to me in Chinese would be more 
successful than not replying to me at all. It would be less 
successful than replying to me in French. It would be much less 
successful than replying to me in English.

The Web is a many-to-many communications medium. Users speak 
different languages, have browsers with different features, have 
different levels of visual and auditory acuity, have different 
backgrounds and contexts in which they interpret information, have 
different connection speeds and bandwidths, and more. Each and every 
page on the Web will be more or less accessible to particular people. 
Decisions made that make a page more accessible to one class of 
people may well make it less accessible to another class.

We cannot talk about accessibility (and here I mean accessibility for 
everyone, not just people with physical handicaps) as if it's a yes 
or no question. There are some actions we can take that make the web 
more accessible for almost everyone (e.g. not encoding text in GIF 
images) and that have very few tradeoffs. But there are many more 
choices that assist one class of people while impairing another class 
of people (e.g. writing in English or Chinese).

To seriously consider issues of accessibility (and many other 
topics), you need to ask at least four questions:

1. Who does this help?
2. How much does this help them?
3. Who does this harm?
4. How much does it harm them?

Considering only questions 1 and 2 while ignoring questions 3 and 4 
(or vice versa) makes for good polemics but bad policy.
-- 

+-----------------------+------------------------+-------------------+
| Elliotte Rusty Harold | elharo@metalab.unc.edu | Writer/Programmer |
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|          XML in a  Nutshell, 2nd Edition (O'Reilly, 2002)          |
|              http://www.cafeconleche.org/books/xian2/              |
|  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN%3D0596002920/cafeaulaitA/  |
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Received on Wednesday, 21 August 2002 10:30:59 GMT

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