Re: New draft - 14 August 2001

More comments and questions about the new draft at

Previous version is not at Is it, I think?

Guideline 1- Presentation
- I meant to mention that I think the opening analogy here is well 
placed and makes the point nicely.

Sucess criteria 1.1
-"You will have successfully provided a text equivalent for all 
non-text content if:" Question: now that the success criteria are 
declarative rather than imperative (a decision I agree with, by the 
way), do we want to keep the "you" here? This is a minor point, and I 
don't have strong feelings about it. But since the criteria are now 
focusing on what an accessible site _has_, rather than what a site 
developer needs to _do_, perhaps we could try re-phrasing the opening 
clause so that it, too, talks about the site (the outcome) rather 
than the developer's actions (the process). Or maybe it's not worth 
the bother (certainly not before the draft goes public, anyway).

-"images have alt-text, movies have collated text transcripts, 
animations have descriptions, interactive scripts have a functional 
equivalent such as a form, audio files have a text transcript" 
Question: is this parenthetical list meant to be exhaustive or 
partial? (I'm assuming the former, since we're in the success 

-"where it is not possible to describe the non-text content in words 
or for text to provide the same function as the non-text content, a 
label identifying the content is provided." Suggest "in cases where 
words cannot describe the non-text content, or where text cannot 
provide the same function as the non-text content, a label 
identifying the content is provided." (I don't know, perhaps this is 
no better.) The Beethoven's 5th Symphony example covers the first 
situation well. Has someone suggested an example of a situation where 
text can't supply the same functions as non-text content? If so, I 
think readers would probably appreciate it if we added it to the list 
of examples.

- I think the parenthetical "informative" works much better than the 
hyperlinked "non-normative" in previous drafts. Good idea.

-"Example 1: a short label." This image, because of its size, causes 
the example to get separated from its bullet on my browser (Mac IE 
5). An align attribute would probably address this minor layout 
issue. I wonder if this image would better illustrate the point if 
the icon didn't include the word "next" as part of the picture. Know 
what I mean?

Checkpoint 1.2
- "dialogue" is the preferred spelling according to my Webster's and 
Chambers (I don't have an OED, alas, but if anyone would like to buy 
me one please feel free!).

- Success criteria - Here we shift back into the imperative a bit. 
Fine with me; I'm just noting it. For 1.2 it's kind of hard to draw 
the line between success criteria and techniques.

- Criteria 1 and 2: I hate to bring it up, but using a subjective 
term like "significant" is probably going to elicit the same 
criticisms that terms like "unambiguous," "sufficient," and "where 
possible" already have. I've wrestled with this in my own mind and 
decided that it is reasonable to ask web developers to use their own 
good sense in matters requiring judgment calls. So I think that 
subjective terms like "significant visual cues" are not necessarily 
out of place, even in success criteria (especially if we illustrate 
our own notion of "significant" in the examples). I know that others 
disagree, however.

- 4: "if the Web content is a real-time broadcast, it is possible to 
provide real-time commentary (as with a sporting event) and real-time 
captioning." This is confusing because, as the fourth criterion, it 
is pretty far separated from the opening clause (you will have 
succeeded if...), and because it begins with another "if," so it 
cannot be joined up with that opening clause in a way that makes 
sense. Therefore, it sounds as though we are simply stating a fact -- 
that real-time captioning is possible -- rather than a condition. Do 
we mean "If the presentation is a real-time broadcast,  provide 
real-time commentary (as with a sporting event) and real-time 
captioning if possible"? If so, perhaps we could say something like 
"for a real-time broadcast, real-time commentary (as with a sporting 
event) and real-time captioning are provided." The subsequent 
sentence about undue burden covers the situation where real-time 
captioning is "not possible." Or is this sentence _meant_ to be a 
statement of fact (in which case it probably doesn't belong in the 
success criteria)?

- Definitions: is "multimedia presentations" meant to be italicized, or not?

-"Captions are text equivalents of auditory information from speech, 
sound effects, and ambient sounds that are synchronized with the 
multimedia presentation." This is technically a dangling modifier, 
though the meaning seems clear from context. If you want to get rid 
of the dangler, perhaps "Captions are text equivalents of auditory 
information -- from speech, sound effects, and ambient sounds -- that 
are synchronized with the multimedia presentaion." (Yeah, not great, 
is it? Just trying to keep from breaking it into two sentences.) Same 
comment applies to the Audio Descriptions definition. Not a really 
big deal.

-Benefits: "Audio descriptions also provide visual information for 
people who are temporarily not looking at the video presentation. For 
example, while following an instructional video they must look down 
at their hands and away from the screen." Suggest making the example 
a parenthetical, as in: "Audio descriptions also provide visual 
information for people who are temporarily not looking at the video 
presentation (for example, if they must glance down at their hands 
and away from the screen during an instructional video)."

- Examples: "Instead, provide a text equivalent as described in 
checkpoint 1.1." All the other examples are declarative. If we wanted 
to be completely consistent, we might change this sentence to 
"Instead, a text equivalent is provided as described in checkpoint 

Checkpoint 1.3
-Success criteria: I ran these past two colleagues to test the 
criteria's comprehensibility to first-time readers. They had no 
complaints about the grammar or reading difficulty, but they balked 
at the subjective term "unambiguously" and seemed to think criterion 
1 was tautological. If they had read the definitions and benefits 
first, however, I don't know that they would have raised the same 

- Benefits:" a reader can use software to jump between changes in 
context. For example, a reader could jump from chapter title to 
chapter title in the book, between scenes in the play, or between 
parts of the bicycle," Since the play example has been removed, we 
should probably take it out of this sentence too.

- "the content can be presented on a variety of devices because the 
device software can choose only those elements of the content that it 
is able to display and display them in the most effective way for 
that device."  Wording here is a bit difficult for anyone who doesn't 
already know what we're talking about. The "only" is especially hard. 
I'm afraid I don't have a suggested alternative.

- Example 1- Shall we insert "Figures" as an example of pieces of 
information contained in a dissertation? Just a thought, as long as 
we're emphasizing throughout the Guidelines that text is not the only 
way to convey information. Also, I would prefer  "quotations" to 
"quotes"  (though I'm aware that I am one of the only people bugged 
by the use of "quote" as a noun).

- "Example 3: user interface. User interface controls are divided 
into organized groups."  This example seems a bit telegraphic in its 
present form. "User interface of what?" a reader might ask. 
Everything that gets used, from a stapler to a screen reader, has a 
user interface. I don't think we can count on outside readers to 
glean from context and convention that all examples in the Guidelines 
are talking (in this case, implicitly) about the web. I know that 
we're trying to steer clear of mentioning specific technologies or 
markup languages in the examples, but it probably wouldn't hurt to 
point out that the physics dissertation, scalable image of the bike, 
and UI are on the web, if that's what we mean.

Checkpoint 1.4

- Benefits: Seem clear to me.
"Oftentimes, phrases..." Suggest "Often phrases..."
Suggest comma after "default accent and pronunciation dictionary."

-Examples: Suggest following convention of italicizing foreign words 
and phrases such as "je ne sais quoi."

-Checkpoint 1.5 Separate content and structure from presentation.
-The potential misreading of "separate" as an adjective rather than a 
verb (suggested by Joe) never occurred to me, but perhaps this is 
something to run past fresh eyes. I personally think the wording of 
the checkpoint is pretty clear, but I worry more about whether 
outside readers will understand the success criteria. Actually, I am 
still grappling with all of 1.5 and thinking about how we might make 
the success criteria, benefits, and examples clearer and more useful 
to the web developers who are trying to follow the guidelines. I've 
found that the content/structure/presentation distinction is very 
hard for many web designers to grasp, even when they are given 
personal tutelage and loads of examples. And it's such an important 
checkpoint. If I figure out how to elicit that "Ah-ha! I get it!" 
response, I'll let you know.

-2. "the markup or data model representing the structure of the 
content is logically separated from the presentation, either in 
separate data structures or in a style sheet." This sentence seems to 
say "represent the structure of the content ... in a style sheet," 
which I do not think is what we meant. I may be wrong.

I'll stop, since my laptop's battery is drained. Deus ex iBook.

Jo Miller

Received on Thursday, 16 August 2001 14:42:51 UTC