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Re: Logical Linearized Order on a Page

From: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 19:19:17 -0400
Message-ID: <39A6FEF5.D817C342@w3.org>
To: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
CC: "Bailey, Bruce" <Bruce_Bailey@ed.gov>, "'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Kynn Bartlett wrote:
> At 04:00 PM 8/25/2000 , Ian Jacobs wrote:
> >Kynn Bartlett wrote:
> > > As an aside, some of you might be thinking, "Woah, hold on,
> > > pardner! What sort of patronizing decisions are you making
> > > here, that you know best about what's important and what's
> > > not, that you make these decisions for someone else?"
> >I feel very strongly the opposite of that "might be thinking":
> >the author is the sole arbiter of what the author thinks
> >is important. And the author designs pages based on what
> >is important to the author. The author should consider
> >usability to be important.
> I don't think we disagree anywhere on that. :)  However, the
> attitude of "I'll decide what's best for you" isn't really
> intrinsic to the web way of thinking, and often that attitude
> (if not this particular practice here) can lead to problems,
> such as "well, blind people don't NEED that information."
> Obviously we are dealing with subtleties and shades of gray
> and not black-and-white, and a happy medium between the choice
> of the author and the needs of the audience has to be struck
> and any responsible author (such as Ian) is already thinking
> along such lines. :)

<smile right back>

I'll tell you why I raise this point: the semantics of the
document are determined by the author. For instance, the
author states that A is a text equivalent for B. Or that
some text is an accurate summary of a table. The fact
that this information is determined by the author determines
in part the limits of responsibility for the author and
the user agent. So UAs don't have to identify a piece
of prose as a description of an image unless the author
has marked it up as such. 

As to the "moral" side of judging what's best for a user,
I don't quite agree with you. I think that authors always
make judgments about what to present to the user. I have
to decide what photos are suitable for public viewing,
what products will sell the most, what type of information
users will want. I think it's easy to make mistakes
in those types of judgments (e.g., I could get it wrong
that people don't need a blurb about W3C on the home page
and that a link to another page is sufficient). And we
need to educate authors that they are wrong if they assume
that users with disabilities don't need or want some types
of information. 

I was talking to someone about making a Web site about
automobiles accessible and they answered "But blind people
don't drive". Not only did they only think of blindness
when I said disability, they assumed that the only people
visiting the site would be potential drivers, clearly
a mistaken judgment.

 - Ian

Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel:                         +1 831 457-2842
Cell:                        +1 917 450-8783
Received on Friday, 25 August 2000 19:19:21 UTC

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