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From: George Kerscher <kerscher@montana.com>
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 2015 08:14:22 -0600
To: "'Richard Schwerdtfeger'" <schwer@us.ibm.com>, <janina@rednote.net>
Cc: "'PF'" <public-pfwg@w3.org>, "'SVG WG'" <public-svg-wg@w3.org>, <public-dpub-aria@w3.org>, <cooper@w3.org>, <jbrewer@w3.org>, "'Markus Gylling'" <markus.gylling@gmail.com>, <public-digipub-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <006801d0bd76$3834a830$a89df890$@montana.com>
Dear Rich and PF WG
Copying the DPub working group.
Below is the reply from the DPub working group you requested. We also have
three attached images for illustration.
We look forward to a time in August where we could gather on a call.
George on behalf of the DPub Accessibility WG.
Begin message:
The Digital Publishing Interest Group asserts that the describedat ARIA
property  genuine utility to the publishing industry. The myriad advantages
of the attribute to the industry include:
1. Showing the user an extended enhancement without losing current context.
.         Not offered by linking in HTML in a standard way.
.         Context is necessary for accessibility. This is especially
important for anybody using a screen reader, or for any user with cognitive
impairments. However, since both magnification use and mouse-less
keyboard-less browsing can increase the difficulty of navigating, providing
easy links to context can be very important.
.         Publishing use case: An article in Example Magazine contains
multiple complex infographics that need to be described with
watermarks/breadcrumbs guaranteeing the reader will always return to the
current context.
2. Offering 3D printer models as enhanced alternatives to viewing/printing
for complex objects, such as a rotating visualization or a relief map.
.         Not offered by describedby, alt, longdesc. linking in HTML can't
wrap complex dynamic objects, or objects which are already links.
.         3D printing models of 3D visualizations will be a game changer for
blind/VI users of digital publications.
.         Publishing use case: An art history textbook with 3D printing
instructions for Bernini's David
3. Providing structured markup in an extended enhancement.
.         Not offered by describedby or alt.
.         Structured markup is vital for accessibility. A screen reader user
who does not have access to structure cannot navigate to the items in the
list, cannot navigate via heading, and cannot have a screen reader voice
appropriately change language according to language tag markup. Without
structured markup a screen reader user cannot easily skim or skip around the
sections of a lengthy extension. 
.         Publishing use case: a linguistics textbook with complex data
visualizations needing rich description, including bulleted lists and marked
up multi-language sections. (See attached images for examples.)
4. Providing an extended enhancement to any element, even one thatis already
a link
.         Not offered in all cases with alt, longdesc, linking in HTML.
.         Extended enhancements need to be available for all page items for
accessibility. Many images or complex visualizations on the web are already
links as part of site design. Those need to be available to blind/VI users
just as much as unlinked images.
.         Publishing use case: a historical map in a political science
reference manual, with Baltic States clearly marked on the historical image
links to a higher-definition map.
5. Providing an extended enhancement to any element, including a dynamic
.         Not offered in all cases with alt, longdesc, linking in HTML.
.         Extended enhancements need to be available for all items for
accessibility. Many images or complex visualizations on the web are rich
dynamic applications which cannot be made into links. Those need to be
available to blind/VI users just as much as simple images.
.         Publishing use case: a required reading quiz at a chapter end with
a manipulatable, dynamic timelapse overlay.
6. Offering a large number of very lengthy enhancements in a single page
without bloating the size and complexity of the source page
.         Not offered by describedby, alt.
.         There are myriad reasons why this is an accessibility use case.
First of all, accessibility has to become something publishers are willing
to add to their digital publications. If adding many extended enhancements
bloats the page such that it has a slow load time for the users who will not
access the extended enhancements, publishers are less likely to add the
enriched material. Moreover, slow load time can increase reading
difficulties for users with cognitive  impairments, as well as for users
with visual impairments, who are not necessarily informed of what is
happening during page load.
.         Publishing use case: a picture book displaying a complex four-part
story, in which details from one story interact with details from another.
.         Publishing use case: a biology textbook chapter with a very large
number of cell images, each of which needs to be described with description
of the cell components
7. Providing access to extended enhancements in ways that don't conflict
with visual design.
.         Not offered by linking in HTML.
.         Although visual designers and layout designers need to follow
accessibility standards, ultimately visual design is often decided in such a
way that negotiation is impossible, sometimes contractually and sometimes
aesthetically. Putting a hyperlink after the item with the anchor text
"enhanced explanation of table 1.1" relies on the ability to modify layout
and visual representation. Exposing the enhancements via user agent
functionality or adaptive technology doesn't have an influence on the visual
.         Publishing use case: a publisher receives the contract for
creating an ebook of the original draft of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for
Godot. The terms of Samuel Beckett's will specify that no words be visible
on the page which were not written by Beckett himself, and the visual layout
be as close to his original draft as is possible.
8. Reusable, updateable and programmatically referenceable extended
.         Not offered by describedby, alt
.         Publishers are most likely to rapidly implement accessibility
practices that have a sustainable workflow.
.         Publishing use case: an online test manufacturer uses the same
complex table in a whole series of online tests;  in the three different
e-books they publish about practicing for the tests; and in the answer key
provided to test scorers. They write a single extended enhancement and store
it in a database along with the ID of the table. When the test is released,
the describedat attribute is added referencing a link to the extended
enhancement, which is made available online. After the tests have been
released and pushed to test centers, the test manufacturer discovers an
error in the complex table description. They update a single description.
Sample Markup for  a subset of these use cases included at end.
We acknowledge that concern has been raised over the inability to access
online resources in an offline source document. However, we believe that
concern is being adequately addressed by ongoing efforts in the Digital
Publishing space to collapse the currently-sharp distinction between online
and offline resources. EPUB+WEB < <https://w3c.github.io/epubweb/>
https://w3c.github.io/epubweb/> is the primary umbrella project collecting
all the avenues of research in this space.
Annotations may address some of these use case, but it is not yet a
Recommendation, and accessibility needs to be further addressed in the
The DPUB IG has open and active channels of communication with the BISG
accessibility team, and is confident that the publishing industry is
passionate about accessibility at this moment, and is very willing to
attempt to implement standards formalized by the W3C and implemented in user
agents. The use cases above are problems the publishing industry must solve
in the near future, and it is looking to the W3C for help formulating
solutions. In the last several months, there has been a whirlwind of
activity around accessibility in the publishing community. Every industry
organization (more than 30) has a task force dedicated to accessibility, to
the point that several of us are working to consolidate efforts. This query
comes at a time of heightened awareness in the publishing world, as several
key actors are poised to act. Publishers are embracing the full suite of
accessibility best practices, and describedat is a powerful tool. We will
evangelize this as the best option, and they have shown they are poised to
Sample Markup:
Example for Use Case 2.
<img src=" <http://www.worldmapsonline.com/images/HS432.jpg>
http://www.worldmapsonline.com/images/HS432.jpg" alt="Relief map of the
United States" aria-describedat="/CAD_files/usmap.cad">
Example for Use Case 5.
On a Google maps time lapse view used in a dynamic textbook, eg:
<div jstcache="517" class="widget-timemachine-dropdown-container"
aria-describedat="TimeMachineTextualEnhancement.html"> ... </div>
Example for Use Case 6. Also works as an example for Use Case 3.
File 1: black-and-white.html
<img src=" <http://students.english.ilstu.edu/jmklass/images/black2.jpg>
alt="David Macauley's Black and White, pages 5-6"
File 2: bw56.html
<h1>David Macauley's Black and White, pages 5-6</h1>
<!-- TOC here -->
<h2>Story 1: Seeing Things</h2>
<h3>Art Style</h3>
<h3>Art Style</h3>
<h3>Image description</h3>
<!-- repeat for stories 2-4 -->
<h2>Inter-story Interaction</h2>
<!-- Describe the interaction between stories 2 and 4 as shown in the image
From: Richard Schwerdtfeger [mailto:schwer@us.ibm.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 6:54 AM
To: George Kerscher; janina@rednote.net
Cc: PF; SVG WG; public-dpub-aria@w3.org; cooper@w3.org; jbrewer@w3.org;
Markus Gylling
Subject: aria-describedat
George, Janina, 

As you know, we put aria-describedat in the ARIA 1.1 spec., however the
caviat for it staying was that we see adequate support from a number of key
publishers that they would commit to using it if we actually kept it in the
specification. This was months ago. Janina had promised me that after I came
back from vacation that we would see something either way from publishers. I
have been back two weeks now and there has been no movement. 

At this point I am trying to lock down the ARIA 1.1 specification so that we
can work on ARIA 2.0 which will address critical features such as
extensibility and greater support for web applications. Also, the group has
additional modules in development for digital publishing and graphics that
are coming in parallel that are taxing people's time. 

So, allowing for possible mis-communications between PF and the publishers I
am going to give to mid-August to see a strong response from publishers. If
we do not see it I am going to propose that aria-describedat be removed from
the ARIA 1.1 specification. 


Rich Schwerdtfeger

(image/png attachment: ling1.png)

(image/png attachment: ling2.png)

(image/png attachment: ling3.png)

Received on Monday, 13 July 2015 14:16:13 UTC

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