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

From: Silvia Pfeiffer <silviapfeiffer1@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2012 00:46:54 +1100
Message-ID: <CAHp8n2kNuHVPBT0ewk0qwozX9FjB+PeQhHGtKjkK7v5=WsMgww@mail.gmail.com>
To: Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Cc: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>, HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
On Sat, Nov 10, 2012 at 10:39 PM, Charles McCathie Nevile <
chaals@yandex-team.ru> wrote:

> On Fri, 09 Nov 2012 21:51:35 +0100, Silvia Pfeiffer
>  <chaals@yandex-team.ru> wrote:
>>> On Thu, 08 Nov 2012 21:39:10 +0100, Silvia Pfeiffer
>  It is good to see more support for long description type features in
>>>> screenreaders.
>>> Yes. But I agree with the NVDA guys - it is a shame that they have to do
>>> this because browsers aren't picking up the functionality themselves.
>>>  That actually supports the argument made in [1] that we need a
>>>> screen-reader only long description attribute
> I don't think so. The following are some of the reasons.
> To me it suggests that the screenreader guys are ahead of the browser
> people in their thinking. After all, many arguments against longdesc boil
> down to "but it should be for everyone, not just the blind" (something with
> which I agree).

I believe that long descriptions are non-optional for accessibility use,
but optional for non-accessibility use and dependent on whether the page
author thinks that a link with extra information may be useful to a
non-accessibility user. I therefore think of these as two different use
cases for the same resource and therefore in need of two different
solutions. We already have a solution for linking to off-page content with
a URL (<a @href>), so the only remaining use case is the accessibility use

Experience shows that designers will simply leave out something that
> doesn't fit their layout, and this leads some to conclude that we should
> therefore enable special content for screen-readers. Although I note that
> few people who make screen readers seem to think that. I think that we
> should be able to build mechanisms which support the screen reader use
> case, but also work for a more general audience - more like the actual
> audience who are using the web.

Experience also shows that when Web developers create rich content such as
long descriptions or captions or other descriptive documents with a primary
use case for accessibility, they start thinking about different use cases
that they could use the same data for as well. Thus, the non-accessibility
use cases fall out as a side effect from the accessibility use case.

In contrast, pushing for a "universal" solution that satisfies everyone is
just met with: "but most people don't need this", which stops all activity
dead in its track.

I firmly believe that the most successful approach towards getting more
long descriptions on the Web is to place it squarely in the accessibility
camp - possibly even require it by law as is happening so successfully with
captions. If we continue to insist that long descriptions are for everyone,
then there is no need to require them for accessibility, since
accessibility are just part of "everyone" and not "everyone" needs long
descriptions to understand the content.

In short, I think we are doing accessibility a mis-service by continuing to
insist that long descriptions are for everyone.

Received on Saturday, 10 November 2012 13:47:42 UTC

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