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Re: Issue 30 (Was: RE: Getting HTML5 to Recommendation in 2014)

From: Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2012 10:36:37 -0400
Message-ID: <505C7B75.6060109@intertwingly.net>
To: Geoff Freed <geoff_freed@wgbh.org>
CC: "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>, Adrian Roselli <Roselli@algonquinstudios.com>, John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>
On 09/21/2012 09:51 AM, Geoff Freed wrote:
> One comment below.
> Geoff Freed
> On Sep 20, 2012, at 6:32 PM, John Foliot wrote:
>> Sam Ruby wrote:
>>> In fact, there is also a point that I would like clarification on.  I
>>> would like to know if longdesc is only ever intended to be used in
>>> controlled educational environments with significant copyright
>>> restrictions and for that usage universal adoption by mainstream
>>> browsers is not a requirement?
>> If I may:
>> I think we have unquestionably demonstrated that there is an immediate need
>> TODAY for a mechanism that addresses the need for longer textual
>> descriptions in the EDU sector.
>> However, I will also point out that Geoff Freed of NCAM referenced a US
>> Federally funded initiative that is seeking to improve the overall corpus of
>> Longer Textual descriptions on the web, without specifically targeting that
>> to one unique vertical market.
>> We currently have one publishing vertical that is signally an urgent need,
>> but that does not exclude others: Museums, government sector, health sector,
>> etc.; content producers publishing content that is not as ephemeral as other
>> popular web content.
> To broaden the point, the DIAGRAM project (the federally funded project to which John refers, above), is not the only entity promoting the creation and use of quality image descriptions.  Three others are listed below, none of which are focused solely on the academic sphere:
> -- RNIB's accessible-image guidelines:  http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/accessibleinformation/accessibleformats/accessibleimages/Pages/accessible_images.aspx
> -- Art Beyond Sight's guidelines for verbal descriptions (largely focused on art):
> http://www.artbeyondsight.org/handbook/acs-guidelines.shtml
> -- City University of London's study of current image-description practices (2006ish but still applicable):
> http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~petrie/HCII05_alt_text_Paper.pdf
> Also, I can say (but cannot reveal names) that there are many publishers, not just the one or two whose names have been mentioned on this list, that are working quickly to provide long image descriptions in textbooks.  The same can be said for entities that create educational assessments-- tests, evaluations, etc.  John's use of the word "immediate" is not an overstatement.

I respect that.

I simply will observe that there may be multiple distinct separable 
problems here.  I have yet to hear anybody say that "longer textual 
descriptions" are a need that should not be served.  We have differences 
on what the spelling of that attribute would be and whether (or even if) 
the specification should prescribe behavior that a number of user agents 
have expressed deep reservations over.

My recommendation would be to divide and conquer.  Work with the A11y 
Task force to build and publish an extension specification for the 
attribute (with the spelling of your choice).  Scope it as narrowly as 
you can and to the extent possible provide a roadmap.  It would be quite 
OK, for example, to say that the first public working draft (FPWD) is 
only intended for vertical industries and/or for certain classes of 
Assistive Technologies and/or only covers long descriptions on images; 
subsequent revisions will extend this to other constructs and be more 
universal.  Note: those are only intended to be examples, not 
recommendations.  Scope as tightly as you can to avoid objections and 
publish quickly, iterate rapidly; and the chairs and W3C team will 
ensure that those that maintain the W3C Validator will track the 
progress of this document.

Whether that ends up being one attribute or several, and how that/those 
attribute(s) are spelled... that's entire up to you.

The only caution I will provide is that if integration into HTML 5.0 is 
a goal, having a document that sets universal expectations by 
prescribing controversial behaviors is perhaps not the best path to get 

- Sam Ruby
Received on Friday, 21 September 2012 14:37:10 UTC

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