W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > July 2009

Re: Nothing is really hidden

From: Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2009 08:10:50 -0500
Message-ID: <643cc0270907020610l19bbba22n2a0c1331b23a4dae@mail.gmail.com>
To: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
Cc: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
>> A bit off-topic, but a good discussion point. My response is, it's
>> hard to say. I'm assuming that if the company or organization (or
>> individual) is interested in ensuring his, her, or their site is
>> accessible, they would do whatever it takes to ensure the site is
>> accessible. I would find it more likely they would use AT software,
>> like JAWs. But I imagine there's other tools they could use, too.
> I think the problem is that all too few organizations give AT users
> all too low priority.

I agree, and believe that this is the reason why summary has not been
used as effectively as they could be--not because the attribute is
targeted to a minority subset of the using community, but because, as
you state, accessibility has not been emphasized.

> I think we've tried to attack the problem of getting the web
> accessible from two directions:
> 1. Make it possible for sites that actively try to get their AT users
> friendly, to do so.
> 2. Make sites that weren't developed with AT users in mind as
> accessible as possible for AT users.
> @summary and ARIA falls into category 1 since it allows sites with
> complex markup to add additional markup specifically to make it
> consumable by AT users.

A little off topic, but a good point.

> <input type=date> falls into category 2 since AT tools can communicate
> to the user that a date is expected and help the user enter a date.
> This works even if the site makes no effort to cater to AT users.

Again, good point.

>> To return to my point, and sorry if I seem to be belaboring it: I
>> think that the use of 'hidden' for certain elements and attributes
>> could negatively impact on how they are perceived, or valued. I think
>> its important to look at these values (and that includes semantic
>> markup, not just accessibility markup) as targeted to a different
>> subset of users, rather than just define them, generally, as 'hidden'.
> What I read into 'hidden' is that it's less likely that people will
> use it at all, and even less likely that they'll use it correctly.
> Hence it will probably help users that rely on it less.

But then we keep going back into what this thread was about, the data
really isn't hidden. The values are exposed, but just not specifically
in one set of user agents, and not specifically for all people. The
data isn't being exposed to everyone, not because the data is being
denied, but because not all people will benefit from the data, or be
interested in it.

It's really important, I believe, in how decisions are being made in
HTML 5 to understand that we have to adopt viewpoints other than our
own in order to ensure HTML 5 is comprehensive and inclusive.

One viewpoint, which is currently dominant in this working group, is
that attributes such as summary are 'hidden', because they can't be
visually seen in a web browser. But if we expand our viewpoint outside
of this subset of the world of HTML user agents and users, there are
UAs that do expose the summary value, there are people who do see it,
'see', in this context meaning are exposed to it.

Therefore, summary is not hidden -- it is just targeted to a specific
subset of users. A subset of users who, from my readings of the lists,
do not overlap with the subset of users making decisions as to what
is, or is not, included in HTML 5.

> Apart from if @summary is harmful or not (I happen to not think it's
> harmful per se), I strongly believe that it's used much less than it
> should, and thus doesn't help AT users to the extent that they do need
> help.

But that, as you mentioned, above, is more likely because
accessibility has not been emphasized in years past--not because of
anything to do with any specific element or attribute. I agree with
you, completely. Hopefully the future of the web will be one where
accessibility is just as important as the attractiveness of a site.
And how accessibility is handled in HTML 5 could have a major impact
on this future.

But the reference to hidden wasn't just to summary, and just related
to accessibility. I also referenced hidden data when it came to
semantic markup, consumable by a different set of user agents. But
what applies to summary does apply to those values, also, in that
though the data is not exposed in one set of user agents, browsers,
doesn't mean that it is not exposed--just exposed via different types
of agents, for different purposes. Where the difference exists is that
the audience for the semantic markup data is self-selecting.

Received on Thursday, 2 July 2009 13:11:31 UTC

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