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Selectors+accessibility (the XML threat)

From: Silas S. Brown <ssb22@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003 04:44:20 +0100
Message-ID: <16194.61076.505594.741286@ssb22.joh.cam.ac.uk>
To: www-style@w3.org

Hi,

The main accessibility feature of CSS is that it allows
users to override author-specified stylesheets.  Different
elements of HTML can be overridden in different ways (for
example, headings can be highlighted differently) and this
is most useful for a diverse range of disabilities and
special needs.  (without going into the details)

There is a disturbing trend for an increasing number of Web
documents to be written in XML (not HTML) and to have the
CSS applied directly to the XML.  This means that
accessibility stylesheets don't work, because the HTML
elements that they apply to simply aren't there.

The best we can do now is mess around with the universal
selector, which is a poor all-or-nothing compromise.  (With
certain forms of dyslexia it won't even help if everything
looks all the same.)  Current implementations do not look
promising - I have spent many hours hacking Mozilla and have
achieved nothing; the best I can do destroys some of the
user-interface elements in the process and still doesn't
help.

If people increasingly use their own XML DTDs instead of
HTML then something more is needed for accessibility.

My suggestion is to propose some selectors that allow the
author's stylesheet to be inspected by the user's
stylesheet.  For example:

*::[style:font-weight=bold]

could match all elements which would have been bold if the
authors' stylesheet were applied unimpeded.

(this is an arbitrary syntax which will have to be sorted
out properly)

Then it would be possible to write code that, for example,
replaces italic with a different colour (for those who have
trouble reading italic fonts but still want the highlight).

What do people think?

Thanks,           Silas

-- 
Silas S Brown, St John's College Cambridge UK http://www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~ssb22

"By the activity of his own hands the wicked one has been ensnared."
  - Psalm 9:16
Received on Saturday, 23 August 2003 02:57:48 GMT

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