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Debunking the need for "text only" parallel sites

From: Richard Caloggero <rcaloggero@bhcc.state.ma.us>
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 12:06:33 -0400
Message-ID: <01BEA382.5F885A00.rcaloggero@bhcc.state.ma.us>
To: "'WAI List'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Well, their is a lot here in this thread.
Text only sites are especially good when their is "no other way". For 
example, VSA Massachusetts has a site at http://www.accessexpressed.net
providing information  about access to the arts and cultural facilities by 
people with disabilities. However, the designer chose an inaccessible 
platform at the outset, (before I was hired) - Lotus Domino Server/ Lotus 
Notes. Their isn't a whole lot we can do within the parameters of this 
configuration. Notes doesn't generate clean html, and certainly not html 4. 
Their a very limited set of customizations and hand coding one can do and 
still keep notes happy. It generates pages on the fly based on database 
queries from the user, so their isn't really any place where the html can 
be controlled/rewritten before it gets to the user.
I've posted on this list before with questions about Notes and Domino. I 
got quite a few helpful suggestions. However, I'd like to know more about 
automatic solutions which can be used (either from a proxy server of from 
the client end) to reformat pages on the fly to help with accessibility 
issues. Greg, I'd like more info on the microsoft solution and if it can be 
used as a proxy/client side tool. I'd like to hear anyone's thoughts on the 
BBC's Betsy - has anyone used it on their own site? Are their any other 
automated solutions to this problem?
My second question is how can one avoid the issue of bad choice of 
platform. In other words: a designer or accessibility tester is hired to 
make an existing site accessible, but the site is based on inherently 
inaccessible technology which cannot be changed due to financial or other 
Thanx in advance for any suggestions or information.


It seems as though the argument _against_ having a text-only version is
merely furthering my point.  Of course it makes sense to have an
automated system that will output the appropriate model of the page to
each user (as in Microsoft's case).  But again, that is essentially a
"text-only" copy.  I understand that a well-designed site in valid HTML
using WAI recommendations is supposed to be accessible to all.  But this
is my point (not for me, because I agree with most of you, which is why
I subscribed to this list in the first place): most Webmasters don't
have the time nor inclination to learn what they need to learn to make
valid, accessible Web pages.  They've been doing it for so long that
they slip into whatever works to make the page look good quickly and
forget the rest.

I _do_ have the time and inclination to learn how to do it right; I
still am NOT designing valid pages yet, because I simply have more to
learn.  However, this is the major pitfall of the whole issue (the crux
of the problem, in Monty Python-ese).  Webmasters think that all these
new Web regulations will make their job harder -- and I believe it
will!!  That's the whole point.  They *must* learn how to do it right if
they are going to design accessible pages.  And it WILL be harder, at
first.  I know, because I'm one of those people!  An example follows in
my next question...


Question #2:  And now for something completely different.

I was going to separate this into an entirely different thread, but it
relates to what I just said.  I have seen on numerous pages the use of a
1-pixel by 1-pixel transparent GIF to use as a spacer (especially in
tables, but not exclusively).  I was just reading an article on c|net's
Builder.com about how the use of <TABLE> has taken on a whole new
purpose, one that it wasn't designed for.  Many people are using this
1-pixel transparent GIF to force a table to a certain width or height,
or even just for color or design sake.  Go to http://www.voyager.net
(search for pixel.gif in the source) for an example.

This has been a perfect solution for designing a page to look the way
you want (I've even used this method).  However, this is very bad for
accessibility.  Yet another example of change that lots of Webmasters
won't appreciate.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am all for accessibility.  I'm just
stating the plain fact that change is hard.  It will take a while for
this to become successful.


Received on Friday, 21 May 1999 12:08:49 UTC

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