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Re: FW: [NVDA] #809: Support for longdesc in web browsers

From: Silvia Pfeiffer <silviapfeiffer1@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2012 18:09:06 +1100
Message-ID: <CAHp8n2=xRGYN7-OmaNU=xmM=T3RZ0naLvL9PqeBnUYyRs-WAjw@mail.gmail.com>
To: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>
Cc: HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 5:35 PM, John Foliot <john@foliot.ca> wrote:

> Silvia Pfeiffer wrote:
> >
> <snip>
> >
> > The discussion about adding the feature to HTML5 will need
> > to be had around the extension spec so I don't want to go
> > into this.
> <snip>
> > That last argument is the one that browsers don't buy into:
> > screen reader support for this feature makes a lot of sense.
> > But browser support less so, because if the author wants users
> > to be aware of a document that has a long description, they will
> > author that into the visible part of their Web page. If they
> > don't they won't author it in. So why should browsers overrule
> > a Web developer's intention? It goes against what browsers do
> > and it seems to me that spending more time on pushing such
> > functionality is futile. Let's solve the real problem which is
> > accessibility.
> Hi Silvia,
> I will politely (but firmly) point out that accessibility != screen readers
> alone, and yet this continually seems to be a point of misunderstanding in
> the larger development community. Longer textual descriptions can be of
> benefit to numerous other users beyond those who cannot see a complex
> graphic image, including low-vision users (who may prefer a text
> description
> over scrolling up and down as well as left and right to try and make sense
> of a large graphic), users with cognitive disabilities (users with
> learning/comprehension issues), and when done right can also be useful for
> SEO considerations.

I make no such assumption. But I make the assumption that any information
provided to a screenreader is likely to target more than blind users,
including such users as you point out and that therefore there are
technologies that make use of the same APIs and information that
screenreaders make use of.

> You also make the claim that web developers will assume that these
> descriptions are for non-sighted users only,

Again, I make no such claim. My claim is that where Web developers see such
descriptions being useful to more than accessibility users, they will make
it visible on the site. In fact, I'd like to encourage them to do so. The
thing is: in both cases it is important that accessibility users are able
to discover the availability of that data and that's what the attribute is

> As for "the real problem" today, the intent of Chaals' draft at this time
> is
> to capture, confirm and codify what we have on the ground today with regard
> to support for @longdesc, without imposing any further requirements on the
> browsers.

Again: I have no issue with the extension spec - it is what it is and it
will need to stand the REC test like any other extension spec.

My comment was much more strategically about what we can achieve in the
next versions of HTML. Introducing new attributes and getting browser
support for them can happen within a short time (sometimes withing months
if everyone is on board) despite what you seem to think. I would much
prefer we get a solution for long descriptions that is not bound to the
image element alone and that solves a wider range of accessibility issues.
Stating that it will take too long just delays that process more. Getting
on with it and doing it is what makes a change.

Best Regards,
Received on Friday, 9 November 2012 07:09:55 UTC

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