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Re: Change Proposal: ISSUE-122 Text Alternatives

From: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2010 16:23:00 -0600
Message-ID: <AANLkTimkZA4RYMUiGs1SN+y0gavLPHdLzGQ2CO+egKr9@mail.gmail.com>
To: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com>
Cc: HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Hi Benjamin,

> Some counter-arguments you might wish to address:

Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated.

Best Regards,

On 11/8/10, Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Nov 8, 2010 at 1:52 AM, Laura Carlson
> <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com> wrote:
>> I've drafted a Change Proposal for ISSUE-122.
>> http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/TextAlternativesIssue122
> Thanks Laura.
>> Ideas for improvement appreciated.
> Some counter-arguments you might wish to address:
>    * The change proposal suggests the HTML WG defers to the WCAG WG
> for guidance on text alternatives because WCAG WG is chartered to
> provide guidance on making content accessible to people with
> disabilities. But making content accessible to people with
> disabilities is not the only use of text alternatives. Other uses
> include making content media-independent for all users (so that, for
> example, users can browse web content from a text browser), making
> content more robust (so that, for example, users see text alternatives
> when resources fail to transfer over the network), facilitating
> automation (e.g. allowing an automated click on a named image
> control), and enabling indexing and discovery of non-text content via
> search engines. WCAG WG is not chartered to provided guidance on these
> other uses.
>    * The change proposal implies that WGs working on language
> specifications should defer to WGs chartered to provide guidance on
> cross-cutting concerns like accessibility for examples on how to use
> those language specifications. How should cases where multiple
> cross-cutting concerns, for which different WGs have responsibility,
> be handled? For example, whose role is it provide guidance when a text
> alternative includes a change of language? WCAG WG or the
> Internationalization Core Working Group, chartered "to help
> specification writers, web masters, content authors, and others
> involved in developing and implementing the Web understand the issues
> involved and the techniques available with regard to supporting
> international use of Web technology"
> (http://www.w3.org/2006/10/i18n-recharter/core-charter)? Isn't the
> group designing the markup language a good group to provide guidance
> that pulls such cross-cutting concerns together for that markup
> language?
>    * An important aspect of switching the responsibility for producing
> guidance from HTML WG to WCAG WG is that it involves switching from an
> group that is /comparatively/ open in terms of membership and
> proceedings to a more closed group (people who are not working for a
> W3C member can participate in HTML WG on request, most proceedings in
> HTML WG operate on open mailing lists, the HTML WG has an open bug
> tracker). Some participants may feel that more open groups produce
> more effective guidance.
>    * The change proposal suggests that text alternative provision is
> "subjective". If it is /truly/ subjective then deferring to another
> group cannot deliver more effective guidance, since they can only
> offer yet another opinion. This is an argument for eliminating such
> guidance altogether.
>    * Diversity of opinions suggests issues are complicated, but does
> not necessarily mean they are subjective. For example, you mention
> that some users want descriptions of mood-setting images and some
> don't. One can imagine markup which would allow user agents to present
> such descriptions only to the users who want them. Such potential
> feature changes suggest that the group designing the language should
> confront these complicated issues head-on, not farm them out to a
> third party.
>    * The change proposal suggests that tasking WCAG WG with producing
> guidance "Helps in the goal of modularizing W3C documents", citing an
> email from Tim which in turn cites a blog post by Tim
> (http://www.w3.org/QA/2008/01/modularity). In that post, Tim explains
> that the basic benefit of modularization is "that one module can
> evolve or be replaced without affecting the others." But guidance
> about usage of features cannot be safely evolved or replaced without
> affecting the design of features, and vice versa. Splitting these
> tasks between different working groups does not provide effective
> modularization.
>    * Disagreements about guidance for text alternatives reflect
> disagreements about what HTML features should be included for
> providing text alternatives (e.g. should we include "longdesc"?) about
> the basic semantics of features of those features (does "alt"
> represent a short text alternative or a full text substitute?), at
> least as much as disagremeents about what constitutes a good text
> alternatives. Conforming features and HTML semantics are inalienable
> concerns of the HTML WG.
> --
> Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

Laura L. Carlson
Received on Tuesday, 9 November 2010 22:24:05 UTC

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