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Re: Right on!

From: inx <inx@ryoma.i-kochi.or.jp>
Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 12:29:10 +0000
Message-ID: <356C06DF.16BD081A@ryoma.i-kochi.or.jp>
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
CC: "Waddell, Cynthia" <cynthia.waddell@ci.sj.ca.us>
CW wrote: The same is true for captioning.  There are those, like myself, who
will require captioning for video clips, and there will be those who will not
require captioning.  Yet, the additional benefit of word searchability helps everyone.

DL: Quite true, captioning is essential for the hearing-impaired community.
(It's also very useful for students of English as a Foreign Language.) But
I've a feeling people are suggesting that in addition to dialog and
generalized sound descriptions ("eerie music"), descriptions of the actor's or
narrator's voice ought to be included. This is a different matter all

When I interpret a theater production into American Sign Language, I have the
option of using my face and general body language to convey the nuances of the
character's voice. There isn't that option yet in captioning (although, we
could perhaps try by substituting various fonts for different voices....
hmmm...) Anyway, the point is that in practice, some details get left out.
Someone must decide what is important enough to include, and what is not. 

We've been talking about visual elements in rather absolute terms: are they
"frill" or not. The answer is that it depends upon the site. Some avant-garde
sites are completely visual. A description of the visual elements might indeed
be called for (though, there are inherent problems with this). 

Other sites have gobs of 3-D confetti that is only there because somebody
thought "it looks nicer that way." A description of the visual elements of
such pages is hard to justify as a site development cost.   

Some sites have little or no visual "decoration." A description of the visual
elements of such pages would be simplest to do, but also of the least value. 

Ultimately though, if you decided to include descriptions of visual elements,
you must address the question: What are the minimal criteria for an acceptable
description? Is it enough to say "a spinning yellow ball"? How about the size
of the ball? How about the RPMs of the ball? How about the RGB value of the
yellow? How about the value of the shading? You may decide, as the closed
caption people do, that such details are unnecessary. But what if, as the
argument seems to go, somebody wants to know? Must we give everybody anything
at anytime?

If you accept the proposition that every visual element of a site is
inherently valuable at all times, then you are obligated to provide as much
description as you possibly can. This is impractical. The only realistic
option is for the author of the page to make a judgment about the relative
importance of each visual element, and treat it accordingly.   

Best regards,
Davey Leslie

inx: english by design 
TEL (0888) 44-0352  FAX (0888) 44-6251
Received on Tuesday, 26 May 1998 23:27:44 UTC

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