RE: Brain dump on advantages and disadvantages of different types of content

Some further thoughts about alternative text-only versions...

+ no good to people with comprehension problems.  
+ Does not contain any other media (obviously). Some users find it easier to
    work primarily in a text mode but can make use of media elements. For
    example, many blind users have an audio player or three attached to their
    text-based browser, and people who have some vision (me for example) may
    occasionally open an image in a viewer. If the images are not there
    that's not possible.


  Brain dump for archival purposes on some disadvantages
  and advantages of plain text, text-only pages,
  alternative text pages, rich multimedia content, and
  dynamic content. Your comments and additions welcome!
  1) Plain text (i.e., no markup):
     Advantages: may be rendered by readily available
                 assistive technologies in three modes:
                 graphically, as speech, and as Braille.
             1) does not support structure, navigation,
                style, and other features that promote accessibility.
             2) Unusable today by deaf non-readers
             3) Probably useless to some users with cognitive
  2) Text-only pages (may include markup but no audio, video, etc.)
     Advantages beyond plain text: linking, navigation, styling,
                and other processing possible.
     Disadvantages beyond plain text: None?
  3) Alternative text-only pages.
     Advantages: Combined with "primary" pages, may produce an
                 accessible  whole.
         1) Two pages are harder to manage than one.
         2) The world is not binary; people can generally use various
            types of content with differing degrees of success. Pushing
            some content to an alternative text-only page creates
            an artificial dichotomy
         3) You lose fine-grain relationships among content. If, instead
            of knowing that a particular piece of text is an "alt" to
            an IMG element, the only thing you know is that page B is
            a text-only alternative to page A, you build an
  4) Rich multimedia pages:
     Advantages: When accessible, provide information most users can
     Disadvantages even when authored accessibly:
          1) May be slow to download (implementation issue, though real).
          2) May be unusable to some users unless there is adequate
             control in user agents to suppress interfering background
             images, etc.
  5) Dynamic pages:
     Advantages: Useful for conveying changes in information.
          1) May be unusable to some users unless there is adequate
             control in user agents to allow control of the rate of
          2) May cause problems to some assistive technologies
             (implementation issue, though real)
  Other topics??
   - Ian
  Ian Jacobs (
  Tel:                         +1 831 457-2842
  Cell:                        +1 917 450-8783

Charles McCathieNevile    phone: +61 (0) 409 134 136
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative            
Location: I-cubed, 110 Victoria Street, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia
September - November 2000: 
W3C INRIA, 2004 Route des Lucioles, BP 93, 06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France

Received on Tuesday, 26 September 2000 08:43:10 UTC