Low Vision

This week I had an off line discussion regarding a critical issue for 
low vision.

I found several things significant:

1. Discussions about low vision are off line.
2. It has been six years since WCAG declared horizontal scrolling not to 
be a failure.
3. It has been seven years since the release of the first iPhone at 
which time the general public discovered that horizontal scrolling was 
profoundly disruptive to reading.
4. It has been four years since the solution to this problem, responsive 
design, has been available.
5. WCAG WG will not even admit any problem with low vision.  They still 
content that screen magnification is enough accessibility support.
6. If screen magnification is so effective, why didn't the cell phone 
world just develop a ZoomText for everyone?
7. Guideline 1.4 actually limits access for low vision placing all 
necessary requirements at Level AAA or just not mentioned.
8. Who is going to do something about it in W3C?
9. Our guidelines promote web illiteracy among children with low vision.

The example of the longdesc is clear.  The true definition of low vision 
regarding reading is the uncorrectable inability to read a newspaper at 
16 inches (40 cm) (Legge, Psychophysics of Reading). Now let's consider 
an instructional slide from biology: the Creb Cycle, that shows how one 
glucose molecule is transformed into over 20 ATP molecules.  It can 
never be enlarged enough to give a clear reading of all steps since it 
probably occupies the entire screen with lots of newsprint sized text. 
So, all people with visual impairments, not just screen reader users, 
need a long description.

Question: Suppose there is a long description.  How does a person with 
low vision know it is there? Does a link or tool tip appear? How do you 
code your long description so that it is easily findable for all people 
with people with visual impairments?  If your complex image has a 
"title" addribute then which pops up as the tool tip the "title" or the 

Isn't that a tutorial issue, or do we just gloss over how non-screen 
reader users find the accessible content.

Finally, and this is general.  Is longdesc part of the HTML5 standard or 
is it ghettoized into a WAI function?  I have worked extensively with 
WAI-ARIA and it a separate and inferior access. Did we accept 
segregation of longdesc into the domain of ignorable stuff or are we 
actually part of the real standard?  That is: is longdesc in the "big 
house" or out in the "quarters".


Received on Friday, 30 January 2015 23:27:51 UTC