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Re: Debunking the need for "text-only" parallel sites

From: Judy Brewer <jbrewer@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 19:38:07 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "Bruce Bailey" <bbailey@clark.net>, "WAI IG" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

I'm glad someone is reading the FAQ!
http://www.w3.org/1999/05/WCAG-REC-fact  Thank you for the feedback. 

Would be nice to have research on this, but the statement in the FAQ was
based on a long history of anecdotal comments on this from many people
working in the field, rather than research. As an example from my
experience, I'd reviewed several US federal agency sites whose text-only
sites were unusable -- a brief series of outdated one-word links, which
were supposed to be equivalent to detailed blurbs on bit-mapped links on
the "real" home page, and which led right back to... very inaccessible
lower-level pages in the site.

I just checked back on those sites, they're cleaned up now, and so wouldn't
be good "bad" examples.

I get a lot of press queries about how "the additional burden of
maintaining text-only sites is a reason why accessibility is too much of
burden"... as well as confusion that text-only sites, or generally dull and
boring sites, are what we are advocating for; so this seems important to
clear up.

On your last question, whether the position that "text-only isn't
necessarily accessible" is well documented, hmmm, not sure that it is. We
are collecting additional questions for future FAQ's; this might be good to
expand on.

- Judy

At 05:21 PM 5/20/99 -0400, Bruce Bailey wrote:
>I very much appreciate that the "WCAG 1.0" Fact Sheet
>(http://www.w3.org/1999/05/WCAG-REC-fact#text) goes so far at to say:
>> Text-only pages should not be necessary to ensure accessibility of Web
>pages that follow the "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines," except in
>very rare cases. In fact, text-only pages are frequently counterproductive
>to accessibility since they tend to be kept less up-to-date than "primary
>pages," or in some cases leave out information that is on primary pages. 
>> Many sites that have made a commitment to accessibility in the past have
>used text-only pages as a solution; however, by following these guidelines
>it should be unnecessary in almost all cases, or even inadvisable, to set
>up and maintain a separate set of text-only pages. 
>I agree with all of the above.  I accept it as true.  Now, how do I prove
>it to others who would advocate for text-only pages?  Can anyone point to
>me to URLs that present evidence that "text-only" pages are usually NOT in
>parallel with the default version?  Is there any published research that
>the "text-only" approach, while perhaps having noble intent, is
>We had an interested thread here not long ago (starting with
>http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/1999JanMar/0064.html) where
>the case was made that "text-only" did not mean accessible anyway!  Is this
>a consensus position that is documented any where?
>Thank you very much. 
>Bruce Bailey, DORS Webmaster
Judy Brewer    jbrewer@w3.org    +1.617.258.9741    http://www.w3.org/WAI
Director,Web Accessibility Initiative(WAI), World Wide Web Consortium(W3C)

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Received on Thursday, 20 May 1999 19:38:06 UTC

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