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Re: Alternative Interfaces for Accessibility

From: phoenixl <phoenixl@sonic.net>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2003 21:51:56 -0700
Message-Id: <200304110451.h3B4puKY015599@bolt.sonic.net>
To: nick@webthing.com, phoenixl@sonic.net
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Hi, Nick

General mark-up languages need to be blind to different subjects.  It
wouldn't make sense that the mark-up language would include the tags for
representing the Krebs cycle and also the process of gender issues
encrouging on ecology.  The Krebs cycled might need to be transformed in
one way and gender issues in a different way because of the subject
matter.  Subject specific transformation is different than mark-up

The simulation is actually an interesting example of something that
can't transform very readily.  The simulation is to act like a GUI for a
database.  This means that it must be dynamic in its interactions while
being displayed.  Since it is designed to act like a GUI, it needs to be
able to respond to arrow keys.  How many browsers support dynamic use of
arrow keys under the control of the web page?

How would a mark-up language support transforming this type of web page
without compromising the essence of the web page which is to act like a
non-web page GUI?

This link will get you by the first page on the demo web site and to the
help page where the punctuation problems occurred:


If you try to use'the link to the demo, it probably won't do much.

Actually, databases and XML help with semantic issues and the semantic issues
can often be handled via dynamically generated web pages.


> On Wed, 9 Apr 2003, phoenixl wrote:
> > Hi, Nick
> > 
> > The issue that I wish the article had addressed more clearly is what is
> > needed in the design of web pages so that blind people aren't penalized
> > in terms of efficiency, ease of use and accuracy when the use web pages.
> > One of the executives of Freedom Scientific just made a posting on a mailing
> > list that it can take 33% longer for him to get his worked done compared to
> > sighted executives.  Why is that happening?
> I'd say that's entirely reasonable.  Not good (blindness isn't good),
> but reasonable.  When you get right down to basics, it's possible to
> read text many times faster than to speak it, so sighted users are
> inherently going to work faster when presented with plain text.
> The object of accessibility has to be avoiding gratuitous barriers,
> not to work miracles or to inconvenience the able-bodied for the sake
> of equality.
> > Does transformation of HTML really provide the most optimal interfaces
> > for blind users?
> I was trying to be more general than that.  If we postulate an ideal
> markup language, and use it well, then the answer is yes.  HTML is
> far from perfect, but nevertheless *can* offer a lot more than you'd
> think from the lamentable mess we see on so much of the web.
> >	  I just had a situation where a web page would be
> > considered accessible by various standards, but a number of screen
> > reader users had problems because of the way the information was presented
> > which included various punctuation marks.  Many screen reader users
> > turn off punctuation pronounciation.
> That's an interesting observation.  Would stripping of punctuation,
> or perhaps of excess punctuation, be a useful option to introduce
> in mod_accessibility?  Perhaps where more than one punctuation
> character appear in sequence, it could assume "special effects"
> and strip them?
> >	  A solution had be be developed
> > which would present screen reader interpretation lines.  The web site
> > is at:
> > 
> >     http://members.aol.com/criptrip/command_control
> Ahem ... "This web page is a demonstration of a command line processor
> interacting with a graphical user interface. Unfortunately, this web page
> only works with Internet Explorer version 4.0 or newer. Please be sure
> that you are using an appropriate version of the Internet Explorer"
> Oh dear.  Sorry, that makes it totally inaccessible to me.
> The page clearly violates WCAG, too.
> > Mark up is unfortunately limited when it comes to rearranging a web page
> > according to a user's semantic desires, e.g. putting first on the web page
> > what he/she is most interested in.
> That applies to users of "standard" visual browsers, too.  The best we
> can do is offer users choices and a flexible presentation.
> >	  Similarly, in the problem just
> > mentioned, there was no way in HTML to cue sceeen readers that certain lines had
> > to have all the punctuation pronounced.
> Hmmm ... can you suggest any reading that might help me understand the
> problems you have with punctuation?
> > I tend to question the limits of automatic transformation.  The
> > automatic transformation of HTML would not been very useful in address
> > the problem we had.
> I'm happy to accept that it's not a panacaea for all problems, and I
> can't comment on the particular case you have in mind (I don't have
> MSIE, and I haven't even seen what I presume to be the page you meant
> to refer to).
> > I strongly believe that a fair amount of testing needs to be done to
> > confirm that automatically transforming HTML web pages provide blind
> > users efficiency, ease of use and accuracy.  Without this type of
> > testing, the decisions are being based more on wishful thinking rather
> > than repeatable research results.
> I agree strongly with that.  If I had the resources for
> meaningful real-user testing, I'd do it.  As it is, the best I can
> do is to develop the software, make it available, and seek feedback
> from end-users in fora such as this list.
> > My suspicion is that multiple versions based on semantic content rather
> > than multiple renditions based on HTML will give web pages which are
> > more efficient for blind users.  However, I'm open to reviewing
> > any usability testing which indicates the opposite is true.
> That may well be the case.  If semantic content were widely available
> on the web, then we could meaningfully test your hypothesis.  But to sit
> back and wish won't help much.  The purpose of mod_accessibility is
> to deal with the contents we have in *this* world, not an ideal one.
> I'd love your feedback on how useful mod_accessibility is, with
> different types of contents.
> -- 
> Nick Kew
Received on Friday, 11 April 2003 00:51:58 UTC

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