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3.1: Proposal with links to Guide docs

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Wed, 4 May 2005 05:25:46 -0500
Message-ID: <6EED8F7006A883459D4818686BCE3B3B0117A52A@MAIL01.austin.utexas.edu>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Hello, everyone.   Sorry I didn't get this out sooner.
The following HTML documents are attached to this message:
A proosal for rewriting GL 3.1
Guide docs for all but the last SC in the proposal
The Guide docs define the terms used in the SC, and also include
Benefits and Examples (these aren't in the Guideline proposal yet, so
you'll need to find them in the Guide for each SC; there's a link to
each Guide under the appropriate SC).
I'll send the issue summary attached to a separate message when I get to
the office-- forgot to send it to myself before I left yesterday
One of my major goals in this work on 3.1 has been to address legitimate
concerns about the fuzziness of WCAG 1.0's guideline (14) about writing
"clearly and simply" and the weakness and apparent arbitrariness of the
"strategies for reducing complexity" that are currently lumped together
under 3.1 L3 SC3-- a baggy mess that no one really wants to touch. I've
done away with L3 SC3 and replaced it with several other SC at levels 1
and 2 as well as level 3.
I started with the basic premise that we can't talk about "clarity" and
"simplicity" because those aren't measurable.  The problem was then to
find something about text that is (a) measurable and (b) meaningful with
respect to accessibility.
Much to my surprise, I've found myself concentrating on the idea of
measuring "readability"  and relating it to the expected education level
of the intended audience.  Readability formulas have been around since
the end of WOrld War II and have been extensively discussed, twisted,
turned-- and widely used in education, certain industries (insurance,
for example, and public health), and by some governments.  They tend to
be held in contempt by peole with literary training like mine (which is
why I surprise myself by dealing with this).
But they turn out to be surprisingly useful for our purposes.
Readability formulas basically look at two things-- word length and
sentence length.   These are treated as measures  measures of semantic
and syntactic complexity, respectively, and used as predictors of how
easy or difficult a given block of text will be to rad.
This is actually waht makes them useful for our purposes: people with
reading disabilities tend to have trouble "decoding" words and sentences
(i.e., a significant amount of effort goes into word-recognition, often
at the expense of the energy required for understanding).  And
readability formulas appear to be good primarily for predicting how much
effort it will take to *decode* a piece of text-- that is, to recognize
the words.  So they may help content authors find ways to write text
that is "readable" in this sense.  And since the results of readability
testing are often expressed in terms of education level (for example, a
text tests at 8th grade level, or 10th grade, or university level, or
whatever), we can use the idea of education level as well.
I've also tried to do some work with the notion of alternative
representations of text content-- the flip side of alt text, in a sense.
So at levels 2 and 3 there are SC that call for graphical and/or
spoken-word representations of information otherwise presented in text,
and at L3 there is a success criterion that calls for signed video of
key pages and/or passages.
If adopted as-is, the proposal would close about 25 of the 63 bugs
listed in the issue summary.  But that's for another message.
Proposal and guides attached.
"Good design is accessible design."

Dr. John M. Slatin, Director 
Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin 
FAC 248C 
1 University Station G9600 
Austin, TX 78712 
ph 512-495-4288, fax 512-495-4524 
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu 
Web  <http://www.ital.utexas.edu/>


Received on Wednesday, 4 May 2005 10:27:13 UTC

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