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RE: Not making links... Markup to Formal Grammar... One Size Fits All

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2002 11:41:10 -0400 (EDT)
To: Geoff Deering <gdeering@acslink.net.au>
cc: WAI IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, Jonathan Chetwynd <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.30.0209221137050.17229-100000@tux.w3.org>

If a developer is not developing according to formal grammars - i.e. their
code is not valid HTML (for example, although it applies equally if it is not
valid RTF, PDF, etc) then they are causing fundamental problems. If they are
doing it right then this is a necessary step.

Where I say in my original message a textual version I do not mean a
plain-text document - in my opinion those are of very limited use in
accessibility except as a final rendered version for a small group of people.
I mean a hypertext structured document, but one that uses text rather than
graphic content or a particular layout convention to convey its message.

(A "correctly marked up document" may indeed be sufficiently flexible to
provide a one-size-fits-all solution. Making such a document is difficult in
practise, and for some real world examples it may be less likely that
accessibility will be provided in this way than by having a flexible
delivery. Each approach has potential problems and benefits...)



On Fri, 20 Sep 2002, Geoff Deering wrote:

>Please correct this view if/where/ whatever it is wrong, but my
>understanding is that if the developer is developing documents/pages
>according to current formal grammars, this will best address the concerns of
>all users, so when the content is marked up in a correct and formal
>structured grammar (DTD), then this is the best form for everyone.
>It seems to me that such documents contain far more informative about the
>document, and can be expressed to the users, than plain text, which contains
>no markup at all, and is therefore barren (or almost) of the structure of
>the document.
>So a correctly marked up page serves all forms of user best (blind or full
>faculties, whatever), and the CSS supports the media.  I know we aren't
>quite there yet, but even without CSS, a plain correctly marked up HTML
>document contains more information about the document, and is more readable
>than in plain text or any other form.
>Isn't the central message here that correctly marked up documents addresses
>the issue as "One size fits all"?
>-----Original Message-----
>From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On Behalf
>Of Charles McCathieNevile
>Sent: Tuesday, 17 September 2002 9:13 PM
>To: WAI IG; Jonathan Chetwynd
>Subject: Not making links...
>Provision of a text version and a visually interesting version of something
>are two important parts of accessibility. Neither is sufficient to ensure
>full accessibility on its own, and even when they are both present there is
>more that is required.
>There are various things that need to be done - as Jonathan says,
>accessibility isn't something that will be completely solved if we only
>of one page at a time.
>The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are important, because they provide
>the basis for at least making each individual page accessible. (well,
>I'll return to that below.)
>But having accessible pages is no good if the browser is unusable. The User
>Agent Accessibility Guidelines describe how to make sure that isn't the
>And even if all the authors and browsers makers work hard to get everything
>right (and the evidence is that they are working on it but many have not yet
>got there), it needs to be possible to make accessible pages in the first
>The XML Accessibility Guidelines (an internal working draft was published
>yesterday at http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/XML and comments are welcome) describe
>what needs to be done to make sure that the format people use is accessible.
>Actual conformance to these three specifications (full conformance, not
>just picking the easy parts) might really provide accessibility. We don't
>know yet - although there is enough triple-A WCAG conformant content to test
>there isn't a triple-A UAAG conformant browser to test it on, and XAG is
>still a working draft in development. But it seems that if we haven't got
>whole thing right, at least things are improving. From what I find on the
>there are more forward steps than backward steps.
>One of the biggest backward steps I can imagine would be not providing
>content just because we don't know how to make it completely accessible. The
>only thing worse that I can imagine is deliberately not doing something that
>we know (well, we believe strongly at any rate) would make content more
>(more about WCAG and individual pages...
>Actually WCAG 1.0 already worked for more than just individual pages - there
>are several checkpoints dealing with sites, when to use client-side or
>servcer-side techniques, and presenting information that might be available
>in a variety of forms. This has been followed up in the development of WCAG
>2, with the help of people who had applied WCAG 1.0 in this way, and I hope
>that when WCAG 2 is ready it will be even clearer about this than WCAG 1...)
>Jonathan Chetwynd wrote:
>Our students and staff expect users to be able to click once and get
>multimedia content. when every site has its own browser sniffers, knows
>nothing of bandwidth or plugins and this information has to be re-evaluated
>on each occassion, our users are seriously disadvantaged. It is plain that
>ordinary users find this an unneccessary trial, and one that needs
>Are we not to provide a link to charlie chaplin's the general, just because
>there is no text equivalent? In my view if the host maintains that this is
>best viewed in a certain size window, they may well be right. if it needs
>broadband, we may as well assume that is available too...
>provision of a text equivalent, no more meets 'accessibility standards' than
>does the provision of multi-media, and we are a long way from that.
>Of more general concern, it is possible to imagine a triple A conformance
>portal, it is the sites that it links to that present a problem, and that is
>not neccessarily, one of their own choosing. It is certainly time that more
>of our efforts were put into defining the accessibility of something greater
>than individual web pages.
>Our students genuinely need a 'fun' experience to motivate them, they wont
>get this from a wap phone, or a lynx browser, and yet we still do try our
>best to follow w3c/wai guidelines.
>jonathan chetwynd

Charles McCathieNevile  http://www.w3.org/People/Charles  tel: +61 409 134 136
SWAD-E http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/Europe ------------ WAI http://www.w3.org/WAI
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Received on Sunday, 22 September 2002 11:41:17 UTC

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