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Re: D-link and LONGDESC (GL type stuff)

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 09:36:45 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charlesn@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
Cc: WAI <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 05:22 p.m. 04/24/98 +1000, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>While the D-link is not a standard as such, its use is noted by a growing 
>number of 'authorities' on accessibility issues, such as W3C and Blind 

Which is to say, if we preach to the choir, we're all for it.
(Except that the W3C has introduced LONGDESC which is not very
compatible with "little Ds" on the page anyway.)

However, the W3C and Blind associations do not control most of 
the web pages being created.  To get this functionality added to
web pages, you have to convince the web authors, or else you

It's hard enough getting people to use valid HTML or ALT
attributes on images, and those -- for the most part -- do not
affect how someone wants to design their pages.  If we say that
to be accessible, you need to put little 'D's beside images
(or even 'D-Link' mysteriously at the bottom of pages), then
we're hurting our cause by giving the impression "accessible
web design EQUALS ugly clutter on an otherwise clean graphic

>Using LONGDESC but not using a D-link in some form, while agreeing to the
>concept of accessibility is effectively rejecting any practical move
>towards it until browser companies can introduce an implementation which
>achieves significant market penetration (admittedly only in a target
>market - Lynx may be well placed for this). Unfortunately browser 
>companies do not control things like the use of latest versions (much as 
>they may like to). Accessible design is a responsibility of designers, in 
>the same way that wheelchair access is a responsibility for architects.

Ah, I argued before recently that accessible design is a responsible
of the page author when someone said it was the browser programmers'
problem.  Now I'm going to argue against the above.  Why?  Because
it's not just one "side's" issue -- it's both.

The only reason ALT has any value is because web browsers support
it.  If they choose not to -- then it becomes worthless.  The only
way a web author can make an accessible page "work" is if the
browser programmer takes the information supplied by the page
creator and presents it in a usable way.

So it's a two-way street.

Accessibility is neither an issue _only_ for the web page creator
nor _only_ for the browser programmer.

>Does anybody have a good idea what an implementation of LONGDESC might
>look like?

As a _sighted_ user, I'd like to see it accessible via a right-
click mechanism on the graphical browsers I use.  In fact, I'd
like to see something like the "page info" used, whereby you
can right click and get a window that tells you the dimensions and
file name, and show the LONGDESC page (or link to it) if it

People who aren't sighted can probably give a better idea of what
they'd like to see in their browser.

Note that LONGDESC has uses _besides_ simply making things
accessible -- providing picture credits, information about how
the picture was taken or when, or where, etc., that can be 
useful to sighted people.  _This_ is how to sell "accessibility"
to sighted creators -- bundle in the access for the blind along
with ways of presenting additional information that are of
value to _everyone_.

Kynn Bartlett <kynn@hwg.org>
Governing Board Member, HTML Writers Guild
Education and Outreach working group member,
  Web Accessibility Initiative
Received on Friday, 24 April 1998 12:43:15 UTC

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