the market hasn't spoken - it hasn't bothered to listened [was Re: fear of "invisible metadata"]

what is the point claiming the market has spoken, when most authors 
and authoring tools don't provide or promote the use of LONGDESC, 
the summary attribute for TABLE, and other accessibility oriented 

that is the point of the Web Accessibility Initiative at the W3C -- to 
provide means for making markup as accessible as possible...   the 
point is EQUAL ACCESS not market share...  the argument that the 
market doesn't support accessible markup is, well, a word i 
probably shouldn't use in a public forum -- the so-called market 
for which accessibility oriented markup exists is a fraction of the 
overall market, but that shouldn't make our right to equal access 
dependent upon market forces...  who would have thought, 25 years 
ago, that there would be curb-cuts on most street corners and 
ramps at most public accomodations?  the argument was made then 
that it is too much of an economic outlay to justify the small numbers
of those it would help -- and then people using strollers and shopping 
carts started to use them, and i doubt if the teenagers skateboarding 
down the ramp at my local bank know why there is a ramp there, other 
than for their skateboarding pleasure...

markup isn't and shouldn't be a popularity contest -- i'm sure that the 
number of CENTER elements on the web outnumbers the uses of 
LONGDESC, but a need should NOT be trumped by a perceived rejection 
of accessibility oriented markup by the market...

the lack of market share argument simply doesn't hold water when 
discussing accessibility and usability concerns,

the market has NOT spoken; it has simply ignored the needs of those of 
us who couldn't use today's web without the accessibility features added 
to HTML 4.01

Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves. 
                              -- Gene Fowler (1890-1960)
Gregory J. Rosmaita:
Camera Obscura:

---------- Original Message -----------
From: Henri Sivonen <>
To: "Gregory J.Rosmaita" <>
Cc: James Graham <>, HTML WG <>
Sent: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 08:05:10 +0300
Subject: Re: fear of "invisible metadata" [was Re: retention of summary 
attribute for TABLE element]

> On Jun 18, 2007, at 19:01, Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:
> >> Summary is explicitly invisible metadata and therefore is more
> >> likely to be missing or inaccurate than data that is visible to
> >> all UAs.
> >
> > 1. poor authoring practices should NOT sway or inform our decisions  
> > -- if
> > markup is being misused, we need to be more precise in the  
> > definitions of
> > elements and properties,
> I disagree. If a markup feature doesn't get used in the wanted 
> ways  virtually all the time, the feature has failed in the 
> market. More  precise definitions don't really help if a given 
> feature is onerous  to author for or doesn't appear to yield a 
> benefit (as perceived by  the majority of authors). A dead 
> letter in the spec doesn't help  accessibility.
> > AND we must insist that -- just as ALT is
> > required for an image -- summary be a REQUIRED attribute of the TABLE
> > element
> I strongly disagree. You cannot make people provide metadata by  
> vehemently insisting that they do. Experience with alt suggests 
> that  if you require a piece of data to be present for 
> conformance, there  will be an arms race between conformance 
> checkers and authoring tools  where the authoring tools generate 
> useless or harmful placeholder  data that is a step more complex 
> than what conformance checkers can  detect as a bogus placeholder.
> Making a requirement that in practice leads to polluting the 
> user  experience with bogus placeholder data is not going to 
> help  accessibility in practice.
> > 2. invisible to whom?
> To the majority of authors. The point is that if authors don't 
> notice  that their documents contain wrong metadata, the wrong 
> data will stay  there and pollute the metadata space making it 
> less useful.
> > what kind of logic is that?  the whole damn document is
> > invisible to blind users, or only partially visible to low vision  
> > users,
> > so i think your fear of quote invisible unquote metadata is  
> > unfounded and
> > unrealistic...
> The data that is perceptible to the author and to all users 
> (that is,  the prose that is rendered somehow to everyone) is 
> the most likely to  be up to date and correct.
> -- 
> Henri Sivonen
------- End of Original Message -------

Received on Sunday, 24 June 2007 19:56:51 UTC