W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html-a11y@w3.org > March 2012

Re: Drop longdesc, get aria-describedat?

From: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com>
Date: Sat, 10 Mar 2012 13:00:19 +0000
Message-ID: <CAEhSh3enbjf=U5Zwoa=2kGSUpnjHsi=SXU-6QtrrDAi=6BVpuw@mail.gmail.com>
To: Leif Halvard Silli <xn--mlform-iua@xn--mlform-iua.no>
Cc: Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net>, Richard Schwerdtfeger <schwer@us.ibm.com>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>
On Sat, Mar 10, 2012 at 1:48 AM, Leif Halvard Silli
<xn--mlform-iua@xn--mlform-iua.no> wrote:
> Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis, Fri, 9 Mar 2012 06:54:35 +0000:

[snip]

>> It is not possible to draw a line between "all users" and "accessibility".
>
> ARIA and HTML lives in different working groups and in different
> communities. I agree about what you say about all users. But,
> currently, we must play tricks to make it work in all ATs - e.g it
> doesn't work in the increasingly popular VoiceOver and NVDIA. By
> contrast, if you want to expose aria-describedby to non-A11Y users,
> then you must play tricks. And that seems like the right order of
> things.

It is not the right order of things if "tricks" are involved to
provide access to long descriptions to people with learning
disabilities, people with minor sight problems (e.g. colorblindness)
that are not using AT.

Nor is it the right order of things if "tricks" are involved to
provide access to long descriptions to people using console browsers,
when an image fails to download, or when users are searching for
content in a search engine. (No, these are not strictly
"accessibility" concerns, but they are core One Web concerns that
@longdesc attempts to meet.)

Also, we're not talking here about @aria-describedby versus @longdesc
but a new attribute without any implementations (@aria-describedat).

>>> Yeah, deciding once and for all whose responsibility it is to
>>> specify the long description link mechanism,
>>> would probably be the most important decision.
>>
>> Specifying @longdesc isn't the problem; designing and implementing
>> effective user interfaces for it is. I don't think it matters much who
>> specifies it if it doesn't make a difference to how or whether such
>> interfaces are implemented.
>
> It is my impression that ARIA is pretty internally coherent and also
> that lots of A11Y technicians look at ARIA. Hence, to me it seems
> likely that it would help if 'the attribute' - whatever its name or
> historical origin - was the responsibility of ARIA.

For a hidden long description mechanism to succeed we need to involve
people who are involved in producing mainstream user interfaces (or
produce them ourselves), not just retreat into a well-meaning internal
discussion between "a11y technicians". Getting interfaces comparable
to Charles's Tell Me More extension built into user agents is no small
challenge when a dominant tendency in software design is towards
minimalism, streamlining, and the Pareto principle.

--
Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis
Received on Saturday, 10 March 2012 13:01:07 UTC

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