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Re: Blind Users and Web Comics

From: Steven McCaffrey <SMCCAFFR@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 09:13:45 -0500
Message-Id: <sc3d5b56.015@MAIL.NYSED.GOV>
To: <kynn@idyllmtn.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hi Kynn:

     Interesting topic.
>what blind users think about
>the idea of using web accessibility techniques to make web comic
>strips and comic books more accessible
I think it's great.
Is this bringing up the "multiple versions" debate again?

There are reading information services for the blind and some read the comic strips of the local newspaper.
The reader reads the strip panel by panel describing all visual aspects
(in addition to any text in the strip of course) 
necessary to understand the strip.
The precise web-based mechanism, (short alt text for each panel, longdesc for each panel, separate text version) seems to me to be more a question for the web designer/developer rather
than strictly a user preference question unless, of course, the particular design does in fact affect the usability.  
For example, what would not work well, I think, is to have a sequence of links to panel descriptions.  This would break up the flow of comprehension from my point of view, (panel 1 description link, panel 2 description link,...)
Perhaps a separate narrative version would be best.
However, this brings up the question of how the narrative version is to be constructed.
In other words, the question of what should be described still exists regardless of what means the designer chooses
(alt text, longdesc, separate version).
What should be described and how to do it are separate questions.
The most important question I think is:
"How should a designer think about the information basically intended for a visual medium so that, when translated to a non-visual medium, the least amount of information is lost in the translation."
The short answer to this is, to think *as if* alt text will be used even when the final rendering is a separate plain text version.
Why?  Because it forces you to focus on the information unit 
present in the comic strip itself - the panel.  If you had to think from scratch about the overal intent or message or actions in the strip knowing you could not use pictures, the result may be significantly different than if you try to translate each already existing panel.

Received on Thursday, 10 January 2002 09:14:59 UTC

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