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[Bug 10019] Native user agent support for exposing longdesc to all users

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Date: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 13:26:22 +0000
To: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
Message-Id: <E1Pz7mw-0000wJ-2I@jessica.w3.org>

--- Comment #8 from Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com> 2011-03-14 13:26:19 UTC ---
Access to the content of the longdesc attribute for the sighted should be
similar to television closed captions. Closed captions are encoded or invisible
to the sighted by default and must be decoded or made visible. There is a
reason that closed captions (as opposed to open captions) are the default on
televisions. Sighted people rarely require them. To them, they are visual
noise. Clutter. Redundant. But if a sighted person wants to enable closed
captions, they can do so via a user preference built into the system menu. It
is a user choice. Televisions do not have a default on-screen visual indicator.
There is no forced visual encumbrance. This is by design. 

longdesc is not hidden meta-data. "Hidden meta-data" is not an accurate
description of attributes such as longdesc. Rather the term should be
"discoverable meta-data", for which user agents and authoring tools can and
should offer access according to user preference. 

Today, longdesc is available to any user agent that wants to make it available
to its users. Germane to the "hidden meta-data" fallacy is the fact that the
Web is not a visual medium. It never has been. It's an electronic communication
medium, both audio and visual, both print and screen etc. It is multi-modal.
Perhaps some web developers concentrate on a particular media type more than
another. And perhaps on many web sites, sighted, dexterous, able-bodied users
outnumber users with a disability. But the strengths, the beauty of the web,
what makes it unique as a medium of communication, is that it isn't limited to
a single output.

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Received on Monday, 14 March 2011 13:26:25 UTC

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