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RE: content guidelines checkpoint 3.1

From: Steven McCaffrey <smccaffr@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2000 07:41:40 -0400
Message-Id: <s9910b3f.095@mail.nysed.gov>
To: <DJW@bts.co.uk>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

Primarily in response to DJW and Zachary:

Maybe I was not clear.
I am merely trying to shift the focus away from being too bogged down in legal technicalities.
I am not commenting on how lawyers think nor on what lawyers may worry about nor on possible future interpretations of section 508.
     If you are a developer and asking "how do I achieve  compliance level ...",
(read "how do I not get sued based on what is in such an such a document, the WCAG not being a legal docuemnt), in my view this is an unfortunate attitude.  The develper's attitude should be rather framed in a positive manner:
"What can I do to enable more to access my content?"

     On MathML, it is not clear that MathML is more accessible than say a plain text representation of mathematical equations.
Have someone read the mathML source file to you over the phone.  Do you understand the equation?
That's what I hear when my screen reader reads the markup tags literally.
Of course, it's better than a GIF image of the equation.
Also, certain math symbols cannot be easily represented in plain text, thus the need for using GIF images in the first place.
Technically, a GIF image of an equation is not a visual image of text, since the symbols are not ASCII, that is, cannot be created from the standard keyboard.  Thus checkpoint 3.1 is just NA.
This does not absolve the developer from providing, in addition to, not in place of , an equivalent representation, somehow.  You could try to do it with ASCII symbols mixed with words if necessary, (e.g. the word Sigma since no standard keyboard
has this symbol.).
     There are themes of accessibility.  Guidelines are suggestions on how to do it.  Checkpoints are
refinements of the guidelines, ultimately still suggestions just at a lower level of detail.
The ultimate test of whether you succeeded is not a compliance level, but whether everyone has access to the content.  If you can achieve accessibility in your own way, nothing says you can't.
The theme is diversity of access, not restrictions on design.  If you have these confused as the same, you have not viewed the whole issue in its proper frame of reference.


Steve McCaffrey
Senior Programmer/Analyst
Information Technology Services
New York State Department of Education
New York State Workgroup on Accessibility to Information Technology 
Web Design Subcommittee 
Received on Wednesday, 9 August 2000 07:44:47 UTC

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