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Re: Accessibility of Whiteboard Animations

From: Chaals is Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2017 01:38:46 +0200
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <826f73f6-7cd0-b85f-9007-d2313a60f812@yandex-team.ru>
Some hasty thoughts…

On 10/05/17 21:28, Gregg C Vanderheiden wrote:
> if the whiteboard does not add any new information not in the audio — 
> then it is redundant and accessible.
Yes. But I don't think that is the typical case.
> If there IS new information then it would need to be described.  Best 
> way though is to just be sure that information is in the audio (and 
> captions of course)

It is possible. It takes work, and at the moment most common tools are 
not helpful - indeed most of them make it harder than it should be, 
instead of doing what they can to help. :( But it's probably not 
insanely difficult conceptually, just a question of work.

A bit more detail - casual readers might want to stop here…

Looking at the concrete example, someone has put a fair amount of effort 
into writing a script, putting together a set of pictures, creating them 
as an animation, all to sell the idea that this much effort - 21 days of 
work - is worthwhile.

So what would it take to make that accessible? As Gregg noted, a lot of 
what is there is captured already in the audio, and therefore in the 
transcript. Coming from a script, making the transcript isn't a lot of 
work. The key would be to manage the visual material itself. Generating 
the drawings as "plain" inaccessible SVG is *fairly* simple - you need a 
whiteboard or tablet or drawing system that outputs SVG.

HTML can host the video, audio, and captions pretty straightforwardly - 
in this case I would be inclined to use an animated SVG for the visual, 
and an accompanying audio.

Adding the *key* things conveyed - a sense of the pictures being 
developed in front of you, is also fairly simple - an aria-live region 
can provide the framework, and you need to put the bits that matter into 
it on the timeline. This is approximately like audio description.

At that point you have something that works. For bonus points, you want 
a controllable timeline, and the ability to stop and explore the 
graphics in more detail, to get a sense of the particular graphical 
style being advertised. That's a case of some more annotation in your 
SVG - "just a question of work"...

So what would it take in practice? Working on the back of a dirty napkin 
after dinner, and assuming tools that people have readily available, I 
suspect you'd need to add a person to the production, for a couple of 
days working in a post-production role, to put it together and make it 
work. You'd need to get the right tools into the production process or 
you'll have to repeat that too.

For a one-off, your production costs are probably going to double in 
production, plus a setup and presumably training cost, or you could 
retrofit the accessibility from scratch but it's going to take someone a 
few weeks once you have the tools set up. A key piece in the way I am 
thinking is being able to get a record of each line being drawn or area 
being filled - which amount to much the same thing for practical 
purposes. If you can get that from a tool, you're good, but rebuilding 
it "by hand" is more like the difference between producing captions from 
a script and getting someone to create them with a text editor and a 
stopwatch, except more work because people can draw faster than they 
speak. In reality if you were doing that you would use snapshots which 
would be perfectly good enough, but then you need to be thinking about 
the actual design of the video...

Building this into a scalable workflow seems eminently achievable at a 
technical level, and if you can work with tool producers, the tooling 
costs will vanish into the noise and the post-production costs a 
moderate marginal increase until it becomes just part of how 
professionals do this. Which isn't trivial - we're talking about 
training people to explain what they are doing in a way they didn't 
before. But like remembering that images need an alt and videos need 
captions, which modern professionals generally take for granted but two 
decades ago seemed like pipe dreams, this is not an impossible dream for 
a serious production team who decide to make it work.

Then again, for about two decades I have been thinking that working on 
that team and bringing this to product-ready  would be a great way to 
spend a year or two burning midnight oil. But I've been busy with other 
stuff, and haven't seen anyone really try it seriously in the meantime.

If you or anyone wants to follow up, I can put together some more 
concrete pointers to pieces of the puzzle that people have built…


> /g/
> Gregg C Vanderheiden
> greggvan@umd.edu <mailto:greggvan@umd.edu>
>> On May 10, 2017, at 11:51 AM, Macintosh, Kristy (OMAFRA) 
>> <Kristy.Macintosh@ontario.ca <mailto:Kristy.Macintosh@ontario.ca>> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I am wondering if anyone has insight into how (and if) whiteboard 
>> animations can be made accessible to everyone. There are many 
>> examples of these in YouTube but for a baseline for discussion here 
>> is one specific example (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZDTB8gmGvY).
>> -Can this type of training tool be made fully accessible to all users 
>> (including those using assistive technologies) and if so what 
>> considerations need to be made?
>> Thanks,
>> Kristy

Charles McCathie Nevile   -   standards   -   Yandex
chaals@yandex-team.ru - Find more at http://yandex.com
Received on Wednesday, 10 May 2017 23:39:28 UTC

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