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RE: Proposal for Guideline 1.1 [definition of text]

From: Christophe Strobbe <christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be>
Date: Wed, 25 May 2005 10:29:07 +0200
Message-Id: <>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

At 19:37 24/05/2005, Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:
Actually,   non Unicode text can be displayed visually as painted text
characters.  It can also be read by proprietary readers that render it
directly into visual characters without it being available in Unicode.  As I
understand it - this is currently done by people who publish ebooks - that
are text but cannot be 'seen' by screen readers.

According to the definitions and descriptions that I could find ([1],
[2]), "painted text" refers to bitmap images of text. So painted text
is inaccessible because it is an image format, irrespective of the
character set from which the characters are borrowed. Requiring
Unicode would not make painted text accessible because painted
Unicode characters are just as inaccessible as painted non-Unicode
characters (unless you were thinking of another definition of
"painted text"). Excluding painted text from our definition of text
is easy enough: it is sufficient to point out the difference between
abstract characters on the one hand and images of text and glyphs
on the other. I have added this to the proposed definition.

      Proposed definition:
      Any sequence of characters that exist in the writing systems of
      the world's natural languages. "Character" here refers to the
      abstract meaning and/or shape, rather than a specific shape
      or glyph image. (Fonts are not collections of characters but
      collections of glyph images for the visual representation of

This distinction is not new: see Unicode's glossary [3].
I hope this clarification helps.

Best regards,


[1] http://trace.wisc.edu/docs/software_guidelines/software.htm,
by Gregg Vanderheiden, but dating back to 1994 and possibly
out of date: "Occasionally, applications will use text which has
been predrawn and stored in the program as a bit image."
[2] http://www.dsq-sds.org/_articles_pdf/2001/Spring/dsq_2001_Spring_08.pdf,
(Disability Studies Quarterly, Spring 2001): '"Painted" text refers to
letters and numbers that are placed on an image file and saved in a GIF
or JPG format.'
[3] http://www.unicode.org/glossary/

Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Departement of Electrical Engineering - Research Group 
on  Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 - 3001 Leuven-Heverlee - BELGIUM
tel: +32 16 32 85 51
Received on Wednesday, 25 May 2005 08:29:44 UTC

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