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Re: Proposed checkpoint to turn off background sounds.

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 21:09:01 -0400
Message-Id: <4.1.19991021183128.00983220@pop3.concentric.net>
Message-Id: <4.1.19991021183128.00983220@pop3.concentric.net>
Message-Id: <4.1.19991021183128.00983220@pop3.concentric.net>
To: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Cc: User Agent Guidelines Emailing List <w3c-wai-ua@w3.org>
aloha, ian!

as regards your reworded 4.4 

When the user agent renders audio natively, allow the user to turn on and
off rendering of audio, including background audio. [Priority 1]

i have to ask, why insert the phrase "when the user agent renders audio
natively"? -- what exactly does "renders audio natively" mean in this
context?  that it is the UA itself that renders the audio?  that is the way
i read it in light of the definition of the term "native support" contained
in Appendix A (Glossary) of the 5 October draft of the UAAG

Native support
A user agent supports a feature natively if it does not require another
piece of software (e.g., plug-in or external program) for support. Native
support does not preclude more extensive support for accessibility by
dependent user agents, so user agents must still make information available
through programming interfaces. 

i suppose that the true source of my confusion over the reworded 4.2 is the
term "audio" -- do you mean audio clips?  i am assuming that you do, for
background sounds are (usually, at least on today's web) audio clips...

if that's the case, it means that, even if i were using a Triple-A
compliant user agent, i still won't be able to stop those damned background
sounds from playing when they start to wrestle with my software synthesizer
for control of my computer's sound card, because IE, NS, and Opera all pass
audio files off to helper applications or plug-ins...

as a speech user who regularly uses a sound card for speech synthesis,
especially when on the road with my laptop, i have found background sound
to be the bane of my online existence -- especially the use of sound by
sites that ought to know better...  take, for example, the Radio
Information Service (RIS) site, located at:
which provides a very useful and needed service -- providing current
information from print media -- which would otherwise be inaccessible to
the blind -- on demand, via RealAudio ...   the problem is that the
document source for the RIS homepage contains an embedded RealAudio file
that plays when the page loads...  the RealPlayer's attempt to play this
sound invariably causes some combination of the following to occur: either
my screen reader ceases speaking altogether, the sound card stops
responding to the system, and/or the entire system crashes...

sites that use MIDI files to provide background sounds are also a constant
source of annoyance -- MIDI files typically play at a much higher volume
than that at which speech is synthesized, making it difficult to hear the
page's contents, even if you have speech set to be output at maximum
volume...  embedding MIDI files has always (for, i suppose, obvious
reasons) been quite popular with blind users who maintain homepages -- at
least, i suppose, those who are still using hardware synthesizers...

so, why don't i just turn off support for audio?  because i only want to
turn off support for background sounds, not disable the playing of sound
files altogether, just as one might conceivably want to turn off background
images, but still load inline images...

of course, there is the off chance that what you meant was, "when the user
agent renders content sonically...", but that's another story entirely...

He that lives on Hope, dies farting
     -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
   WebMaster and Minister of Propaganda, VICUG NYC
Received on Thursday, 21 October 1999 21:40:42 UTC

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