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From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 1999 17:45:18 -0400 (EDT)
To: WAI IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.10.9906081631580.21068-100000@tux.w3.org>
Some personal thoughts:

Accessibility of the web to people with disabilities includes accessibility
to people with cognitive disabilities. It is therefore an issue for WAI.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines attempted to addresss the problem to
the greatest possible extent.

One of the ideas we work with is that access is for all people. Restricting
access to non-readers is the same as restricting access to people who have
hearing, or who have a particular standard of vision. It is a bad idea, since
it creates the same problem that it solves.

This is why a common approach in the guidelines is to provide equivalent
versions of information - for example a textual equivalent to an image, an
audio description of a video, and graphics to illustrate text. In general an
equivalent is not as good as the original, but it is better than nothing. To
remove information so as to make everything that is there accessible is not
an answer.

It is true, as Chris Maden has pointed out, that there is little we can do
without understanding. The understanding of the working group was that the
best advice we could give was to clarify the language and presentation as far
as posssible, and where possible to use graphics and other non-textual
equivalent material to increase the accessibility of the information

I don't know any reliable way to decide if some information is expressed as
clearly as possible. Methods which measure the legibility of a document do
not determine whether there is a simpler way to express the same information,
as far as I know.

The peepo site is clearly inaccessible to many users. If we could make that
site accessible to a much wider range of users we might learn some more
techniques, or even some new principles. Although I have made some attempt at
this, I cannot really understand how the site works. If we could make the W3C
site simpler without losing information, that would help us too. Again, I am
not sure how to do this. 

A related field is deaf non-readers. Many deaf people learn a sign language
as their first language, and written english as a second language. It is very
difficult to become literate in a second language when you are not literate
in your first language. And most sign languages do not have a written form.

So if anybody has good examples, suggestions, etc, please bring them on.
Specifically, I would be interested in some further explanation of what is
intended to happen in the peepo site, so I can check whether I have
misunderstood it or not.


Charles McCN
Received on Tuesday, 8 June 1999 17:45:20 UTC

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