Re: literacy?

William Loughborough wrote:
> I get a very strong feeling that we are all tacitly assuming that the
> Web and all our Guidelines, etc. assume literacy on the part of a user?
> Of course this is the basis of Jonathan's criticisms and also the
> explanation of our emphasis on "text" as being fundamental.

> I don't think this is "wrong" but perhaps just unremarked.

I think there are other reasons (and I'm deriving these comments
from discussions with Eric Hansen):

1) All content must be available only to eyes, only to ears, and
only to fingertips. (Refer to my comments on grouping checkpoints
and the category of perception and the senses.)


2) Given the state of current technologies (that are readily available,
not too expensive, and accurate enough), text is the best way to
ensure that information can reach all of those senses. Text is not
ideal for communicating all information (graphics and audio are often a 
lot more effective than text, some users can't read visually displayed
deaf non-readers seem to lose entirely in this model, etc.) However,
today's tools handle text characters as input much better than
images of text (OCR) or voice-to-text translation (although that seems
to be improving). How good is general visual-to-auditory translation?
Or auditory-to-visual?

Thus, I think the emphasis on text is not strictly bound to
assumptions of literacy but requirements to reach eyes, ears,
and fingertips.

 - Ian

Ian Jacobs (
Tel:                         +1 831 457-2842
Cell:                        +1 917 450-8783

Received on Thursday, 17 August 2000 00:20:19 UTC