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Re: Outreach update and suggestion for new document

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2004 10:49:03 -0400 (EDT)
To: Alan Chuter <achuter@teleservicios.com>
Cc: WAI EO <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.55.0408081034550.873@homer.w3.org>

On Fri, 6 Aug 2004, Alan Chuter wrote:

>First the outreach update, and then I explain why I think we need a
>document about the Semantic Web.
>Although my talk only lasted two hours, the preparation has been arduous
>to say the least. Although I read three books on the Semantic Web, none of
>them mention accessibility. There is an RDF Techniques for WCAG document,
>but I had to do an XSL transformation in order to read the latest draft
>and its very patchy. Other people (in particular Charles MCathieNevile and
>Lisa Seeman) have talks online at W3C but I found them of very little use
>as a source of information. RDF Primer is too long for accessibility
>people new to the subject. In short there's a big gap in the information

I would agree with Alan that this is a useful thing to do. Although I have
given a number of presentations and been involved in helping a number of
projects that make use of semantic web in accessibility, the slides on their
own do not often help to do much that is useful.

I would suggest plundering information from the SWAD-E project reports [1],
as some of these were simple projects designed to show something interesting
- often with an accessibility application. There was also a collection of
ideas [2] about how to apply semantic web technology to meet various
accessibility requirements - it is an extremely uninteresting document to
read since it was essentiallly a laundry list of rough ideas, but it maight
again be useful source material.

>The reason for my explaining all this is that it seems to me there is a
>need for an easy to read education and outreach document giving an
>overview of all this activity:
>* The different ways SW technologies can
>  improve accessibility
>* That some don't really fit in with the
>  design-for-all model of WCAG.

Hmmm. One of the reasons why this is not an easy document to produyce is that
there are some genuine areas taht need clarification amongst the community.
For example I don't think it is the case that SemWeb technologies used for
accessibility don't fit with the design-for-all model (quite the contrary)
but I understand that there are people in the developer community who do.
Sorting this out takes a lot of discussion...

>* How the different avenues of development
>  related to each other.
>* What accessibility people should do now and
>  what they can expect to happen in the near
>  future.
>There's nothing available that does this in one document or in any.

In part this is related to the difficulty of putting all this into a
document. Where the SWAD-E project looked at possible applications to
accessibility it turned out that the resources required to produce complete
documents of this type were more than what was available, and focusing the
available resources (for example in answering questions about presentations
or projects) seemed to maximise the potential rewards.

There have been extensive discussions in the WCAG group about how to use
Semantic Web technology, and it is not clear whether they are convinced that
it is a viable solution (I personally think there are a number of things it
can help with, perhaps better than any other technology available. But I
don't speak for WCAG and cannot even control when something gets put on their

Interestingly there is far more acceptance of it in some of the tools areas,
where developers are simply using it, and starting to demonstrate effective
accessibility applications where the Semantic Web aspect is only visible to
people who peek under the hood. It may be that the aspects which it is
important to explain to anyone except a hard-core tool development audience
are more to do with information architecture and infrastructure management
than the more code-oriented approaches that have been successful for HTML.

just some personal reflections.

Received on Sunday, 8 August 2004 14:49:03 UTC

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