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Some comments on the recent HTML discussion

From: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 1997 10:22:50 +1000 (AEST)
To: WAI HC Working Group <w3c-wai-hc@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.95.970919102038.18247A-100000@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU>
I would like to make a few disparate comments relating to the discussion
that has recently been taking place on the WAI WG list.

1. As Dave Raggett has observed, there is a need for the definition of
more descriptive media types to be coordinated as between the WAI and
those members of the HTML/CSS working groups who are active in this area.
Is there any proposal to add more descriptive media types prior to 
the release of HTML 4 and CSS 2, or will this be a later refinement that is
scheduled for inclusion in a subsequent version of the standards? In the
latter case, this working group would need to consider whether to take the
lead in the definition of media types, or whether to wait until the
HTML/CSS working groups have developed their approach more concretely.
Another media type change which has not so far been discussed, is the
possibility of adding a parameter to the SCREEN and PRINT media types to
distinguish style sheets that are intended to provide large print or
special colour schemes that would assist users who have low vision.
Although the current SCREEN and PRINT media types would allow large fonts
or specific colours to be defined in the user's default style sheet, there
is a risk that such settings are likely to be overridden by persistent
styles. Authors, I suspect, are likely to include font and colour
parameters in their persistent styles. The definition of a special media
type would at least neutralise the detrimental impact of such practices, since the
user's default style sheet can only be overridden by another style of the same
media type. Another approach would be to reconsider the whole issue of whether
users should be permitted to override persistent styles, in the manner that Al has
suggested in his response to the ACSS action item.

2. I would like clarification of the proposal to reserve link types for
accessibility-related resources. If the plan is to establish a key word which, if
present, declares that the linked resource is intended for purposes of
accessibility (for example an audio version of a document; perhaps in talking book
format) then I think the approach is meritorious. However, certain types of
resource that we have been discussing are not exclusively related to
accessibility. For example, an abbreviation dictionary is important to speech
output, but it may also be used by a spelling checker, or as a mechanism by which
a link can be associated with each abbreviation, which, if activated, displays its
expansion (this might be desirable in some educational settings, though the
spelling checker illustration is a more commonplace application). Thus, care
should be taken in deciding which link types should be associated with an
"accessibility" key-word. As Daniel has suggested, CLASS may be a better location
for the declaration of the type of dictionary (rel="dictionary"

3. If we decide to accept the LONGDESC proposal, then I would suggest that
LONGDESC be added to FRAME as well as to IMG. The rationale is obvious: currently
it is possible to load an image directly into a frame by way of the SRC attribute
in the frame's definition. TITLE and LONGDESC would together allow a textual
alternative to be specified by the author.

4. To enable style sheets to control the reading order of an HTML document (if,
indeed, we decide upon this as the best strategy), it may be desirable to define
standard classes for certain frequently occurring constructs, such as navigation
bars, which it would often be necessary to move in order to give an efficient
braille or audio rendering.
Received on Thursday, 18 September 1997 20:23:05 UTC

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