Re: Initial Draft --Cascaded Speech Style Sheets

I agree with Evan's comments on named values for the attributes.  Unless 
you want to have only a small group of authors use aural stylesheets, you 
need to allow people to specify values for almost every attribute in 
normal language.  Most of the ideas in the initial draft sound good to 
me, except for this flaw.  The use of normal language would also 
facilitate multilingual use of stylesheets; for example, aural emphasis 
is given differently in English than in French, and this difference could 
be accommodated much more simply if the style change were given 
descriptively in normal language, which was then translated by the UA.

One other thing that should be included is some attempt to unify the 
visual and aural presentation of a document, as Mary Holstege suggested.  
Raman says that these ought to be allowed to be orthogonal; this seems to 
me to be a bit silly since the ultimate goal of the author is an accurate 
representation in the receiver's mind, which should probably ;-) not be 
very different in the two cases.  The best way to achieve this unity is 
by making authors use descriptive rather than prescriptive tags, e.g., 
<strong> rather than <b>, which can be rendered in whatever appropriate 
aural or visual styles are available to the UA.  This requires a change 
in html, rather than in the style sheets, but it is not a difficult 
change.  The simplest way to achieve this is to make the prescriptive 
tags redundant, giving them the value of the nearest equivalent 
descriptive tag, which would preserve the backward compatibility of html 

This unification of visual and aural presentation would take some thought, 
but not an incredible amount, and it could be a very worthwhile project.  
To my knowledge, this hasn't been done so far; does anyone out there have 
any useful references?  Raman's "speak-verbatim.css" (a mere aural 
description of the visual layout, that he mentioned in his reply to Mary) 
is clearly unsatisfactory, but it didn't seem to be a serius attempt at 
solving this problem.  

Any comments from the html group?  Would the possibility of unifying 
presentation styles (visual/aural/maybe even tactile and olfactory) be 
alluring enough to convince people to use descriptive rather than 
prescriptive tags, which is probably the biggest change that would be 
needed to implement this idea?

David Seibert

Work: seibert@hep.physics.mcgill.ca         Home: 6420 36th Ave.
Physics Department, McGill University       Montreal, PQ, H1T 2Z5 
3600 Univ. St., Mtl., PQ, H3A 2T8, Canada   Canada
(514) 398-6496; FAX: (514) 398-3733         (514) 255-5965

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