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Re: A few thoughts on using dynamic web pages to improve

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 1999 19:21:34 -0500 (EST)
To: Scott Luebking <phoenixl@netcom.com>
cc: kasday@ACM.org, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.9911171913240.11335-100000@tux.w3.org>

There are some things that cannot be currently done accessibly. For those
things there are a few alternatives:

  1. Just don't. Consider whether something is really necessary, as well as
how it will appear. In addition, consider waiting for better technology, and
using it when it becomes available. Scalable Vector Graphics makes it easy to
achieve such effects in a form that will linearise perfectly well, containing
plain text that can be searched, selected, retrieved by search engines and
other metadata harvesters, etc.

  2. Use the best technology available. To make the word growth travel
diagonally up the page will break down in all kinds of situations. If it is
really necessary, the best solution may be to use an image, or a cascade of
object elements.

  3. Make a separate version. Unless you make it very obvious that there is
another version, and that it is up to date, this is not worth considering,
but as a last resort it is better than nothing. However, in the case where
this is the chosen approach, don't just amke a "text-only" version. There are
many features of accessible design that go beyond text, and many features of
ordianry design that are easy to use and valuable in an accessible version -
images, structure, well-designed actve elements, etc etc.


Charles McCN

On Wed, 17 Nov 1999, Scott Luebking wrote:

  Hi, Len
  I believe that the thread on tables may not be finished yet.
  The issue of tables has a lot to do with positioning text
  and also with color backgrounds.  For example, if there is a left column
  index and a main column with header and body, the column index is read
  first.  Nested tables for alinging blocks of colors in certain
  ways in a column is another problem.  Because there can be so
  many ways to use areas of color on a web page to create a certain
  design effect, I would be careful not to make the assumption that
  linearization is always readily achievable, e.g.:
  (For screen reader users, this is the word "GROWTH" with the letters
  starting at the lower left corner and going towards the upper right.)
  		Z Z Z Z Z Z Z                 
  		Z Z Z Z Z Z Z                 
  (This is a Z, made up of a lot of Z's.)
  I'm not saying that default page should be impossible to use, but that
  in a trade-off between visual appearance and visual accessibility, it
  will be hard for designers to give up visual appearance.
  > OK, we agree that giving a choice is desirable... although we might differ
  > on how desirable.  I'd also agree that we can't ignore how much effort it
  > will be for a webmaster.
  > As for your assertion that
  > >layouts using tables probably won't transform very easily into a more
  > >linearized form. 
  > Another thread just popped up on on this list re problems with tables and
  > other folks are discussing various experiences with tables. We're seeing
  > different view there.
  > My view is that it's not hard to avoid the table linearizing as gibberish,
  > although you do have to use a few tricks.  For example, if you want a
  > layout with several text fields in a row and you want the names on top of
  > the text fields, you can't just put names in a row above the text fields.
  > If you did that a screen reader would read all the names and then present
  > all the fields.  A real mess. But in this case you can easily put each name
  > and text field in their own table cell, with a break <BR> in between.  That
  > gets the reading order correct.
  > Of course, I'm assuming that the browser or browser screenreader is reads
  > the table in the order it appears in the HTML.  This is true of text or
  > voice browsers like lynx, pwwebspeak, emacs/w3, and home page reader, as
  > well as graphical browsers-screenreader combinations which linearize
  > tables, like internet explorer and jaws with the reformat command. 
  > Now, that doesn't always put the items in the order that yields maximal
  > efficiency. In fact, it can be rather messy... e.g. users hear the main
  > menu links, the title, some of the links again (when they are featured in a
  > center splash image) etc. I agree that it could be made better on a
  > separate page with different format.  
  > So yes, I've said it before and I'll say it again, would indeed be valuable
  > to have alternative versions of the page which are easier to read in an
  > efficient manner.
  > But my point is that I still feel that even the default page should at
  > least avoid gibberish and not be completely impossible to use.
  > Is there an example you can give where it's really tough to avoid
  > gibberish... an example that would come up commonly?
  > Or if anyone else out there has a good example please post it up on the list.
  > Len

--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://www.w3.org/People/Charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Received on Wednesday, 17 November 1999 19:21:39 UTC

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