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Who decides "content"

From: William Loughborough <love26@gorge.net>
Date: Sat, 23 May 1998 07:06:48 -0700
Message-ID: <3566D7F8.39349E5B@gorge.net>
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I am changing the subject because everyone seems agreed about everything
except the central issue under discussion.

I know *lots* of blind people.  Some of them are "congenitally blind"
others "adventitiously blind" (yes, some jokesters even call that
"advantageously blind").  Some are "lights out" blind, others have
varying degrees of visual impairment ("legally blind", "high partials",

Among all of them are varying degrees of concern about such things as
how it looks to wear whatever color combo they wear but others don't
even use protheses ("glass eyes") to look "better" to sighted people. 
Some want to know all the details of what's around them and some only
care about what "really matters" for coping purposes.

The point of all this in our context is that some people think
*everything" presented is *Content* and for someone to (arbitrarily?)
decide that the background that shows tiled spinning wheels on the yarn
shop website isn't content is behaving discriminatorily.  Others (my
sighted self included) prefer not to have such backgrounds because it's
not *really* content - but if you're not aware of it and it comes up in
some context you might feel unprepared to participate in a discussion. 
And no matter what definition I use to decide whether some "content" is
*really* *CONTENT* that choice is preferred *BY SOME PEOPLE* to be in
the control of the user and her agent and not decided by some
all-knowing author who doesn't understand the overall tyrrany of the
everyday relationship of TABs (Temporarily Able Bodied) to folks in the
disabled community.

It would seem that this entire thread (which thankfully has only
generated a little heat in connection with the use of "discrimination")
might be better served in another forum but the underlying philosophy
here is whether we can allow the users' agents to decipher as much (or
little) of the HTML as the user wants and not put so much burden on the
author to decide how "equal" the "seamless" or "separate but equal"
versions are.

IMHO the focus should be on making it *possible* for the users' software
to render a site in whatever way she wants and the most important point
and the thing that makes most pages unusable is the absence of ALT=
attributes (and their cousins LONGDESC and TITLE).

The guidelines are properly heavily focused on things that *only* the
author can correct and that there is no conceivable way (at this time?)
for any imaginable (practical?) browser/agent to make things
intelligible.  If a modification to LYNX 2.x were to make it possible to
make sense of tables, forms, etc. then we need not force the authors
into complying with further rules.  Liam's "seamlessness" could be got
from some complex user style sheet or Raman's magical mystery tour.

But please don't continue with the idea that "content" is an absolute
and that there's no semantics in choices concerning <HR>.
Received on Saturday, 23 May 1998 10:10:08 UTC

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