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Re: How to describe Flowcharts, Schematics, etc

From: Steven McCaffrey <smccaffr@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 15:12:52 -0400
Message-Id: <s7c4080c.031@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
To: karl.hebenstreit@gsa.gov, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Hi Karl:
Actually, if you check the QED thread you will find I was one of the few totally blind people to speak up in support of people with Ld.  I remember because Jonathan thanked me.
My point was deeper than that, but I'll wait unitl you go through my response.  I like many of your thoughts on communication.  This is exactly what I am driving at, but at a deeper level.  The deceptively simple way to put it is: What is the nature of information gained by the eyes when viewing a chart diagram?  If we can't really answer this question, how can we hope for cross-modal communication?


Steven McCaffrey
Information Technology Services

>>> <karl.hebenstreit@gsa.gov> 08/25 2:10 PM >>>

       Steve -
       This is an interesting response and I'll need some more time to
       reflect on everything you're saying, but there's another aspect
       I'd like to point out.    I certainly hope you realize how
       "blind-centric" your statement below is:  "Humm, if the text
       has the same information, what is gained by drawing the chart
       at all?".  This is precisely the type of attitude for which the
       LD community has been so critical  of the WAI guidelines in
       recent threads.

       A flowchart is primarily a visual tool; even if you could
       perfectly convey all the information contained in a flowchart
       in a narrative text, the visual representation is still needed
       because it helps reinforce this information for
       visually-oriented people.

        A tool like AllClear could make it possible to greatly improve
       communication between a blind person and a sighted person.
       A blind person, after hearing a process described, could create
       a flowchart based on his/her understanding of what they heard.
       The flowchart could then be used as the medium to convey this
       understanding to the sighted person, who would then be able to
       comment.  In this scenario, I would argue that a blind person
       would provide invaluable insight into the accuracy of the
       flowchart diagram.

       This scenario also brings up a point that I feel is often
       neglected from WAI discussions.   Too much of our discussions
       are focused solely on the technology, rather than on using
       technology to enable and improve communication among people.
       While I certainly agree that the goal is to enable each person
       to be independent to the greatest degree possible.  Our
       discussions are also almost exclusively focused on individuals,
       although the increasing complexity we are faced with in
       addressing societal issues is demanding greater collaboration
       among people.

       One area I would like to see more focus on is encouraging and
       enabling communications among people with disabilities.
        For example, identifying four disabilities -- visual, hearing,
       cognitive, and motor -- would lead to 15 (2 raised to the 4th
       power, minus 1) possible combinations.   By the way, this would
       best be presented to visually-oriented people in a Venn diagram
       with four overlapping circles (I'm still working on drawing
       this correctly).   These 15 combinations would include the 4
       disability groups by themselves, 6 pairs, 4 groups of three,
       and one of all four (which is universal design).   We need to
       be careful about our use of "Unversal Design" and make sure
       that we apply it appropriately; using the term when we're not
       focusing on all disability groups undermines its effectiveness.

       One of the most strategic ways we could address accessibility
       issues would be through enabling the direct communication among
       disability groups.  Assistive technology has progressed to the
       point where we can enable a blind person and deaf person to
       communicate directly (a blind person using a TTY software
       package with a screen reader).   To what degree can the other
       pairs be addressed -- visual and cognitive, visual and motor,
       hearing and motor, hearing and cognitive, cognitive and motor?

       Karl Hebenstreit, Jr.
       US General Services Administration
       Center for Information Technology Accommodation
       Home Page:  http://www.itpolicy.gsa.gov/cita 
       E-mail:  karl.hebenstreit@gsa.gov 

       From: "Steven McCaffrey" <smccaffr@MAIL.NYSED.GOV> AT internet
             on 08/17/99 07:17 AM

       To:   Karl F. Hebenstreit Jr./MKC/CO/GSA/GOV, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org 
             AT INTERNET@ccMTA-GEMS-MTA-01 
       cc:   Raman@adobe.com AT INTERNET@ccMTA-GEMS-MTA-01 
       Subject:  Re: How to describe Flowcharts, Schematics, etc
Received on Wednesday, 25 August 1999 15:24:42 UTC

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