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Re: aria-describedat

From: Richard Schwerdtfeger <schwer@us.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2015 10:03:34 -0500
To: "George Kerscher" <kerscher@montana.com>
Cc: cooper@w3.org, janina@rednote.net, jbrewer@w3.org, "'Markus Gylling'" <markus.gylling@gmail.com>, public-digipub-ig@w3.org, public-dpub-aria@w3.org, "'PF'" <public-pfwg@w3.org>, "'SVG WG'" <public-svg-wg@w3.org>
Message-ID: <OF747B47C3.1F18F2FA-ON86257E84.00520B80-86257E84.0052B94E@us.ibm.com>
Hi George,

Thank you for the thoughtful, detailed response.

- Will you be providing a list of publishers committed to using it in
- Does the aria-describedat we have today meet the needs. ... Like does the
target ID need to have other capabilities?

If the group is going to vote I want make sure we have all of this on the

I will be back from vacation next week.


Rich Schwerdtfeger

From:	"George Kerscher" <kerscher@montana.com>
To:	Richard Schwerdtfeger/Austin/IBM@IBMUS, <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>,
Date:	07/13/2015 09:15 AM
Subject:	aria-describedat

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

      ·         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

      ·         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
4. Providing an extended enhancement to any element, even one thatis
already a link

      ·         Not offered in all cases with alt, longdesc, linking in

      ·         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

      ·         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

      ·         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 design.

      ·         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/> is the
primary umbrella project collecting all the avenues of research in this
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" 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[attachment "ling1.png" deleted by Richard
Schwerdtfeger/Austin/IBM] [attachment "ling2.png" deleted by Richard
Schwerdtfeger/Austin/IBM] [attachment "ling3.png" deleted by Richard

(image/gif attachment: graycol.gif)

Received on Thursday, 16 July 2015 15:04:17 UTC

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