Re: the market hasn't spoken - it hasn't bothered to listened [was Re: fear of "invisible metadata"]

longdesc is about social responsibility and about the message we send  
to people with visual impairments if we drop it without coming up  
with something *at least as good or better*. It is not about market  

Many things in the educational sector or in the news media, cannot be  
sufficiently described with the "alt" or "title" attributes alone.  
How do I explain to a visually impaired person the content of a pie  
chart, a complex flow chart or other graphical representation of  
scientific data, a poll, the result of a customer survey? Although  
the "alt" tag is not limited to any number of characters, to my  
understanding it is meant to provide a short(!) description of an image.
What about e-books? The WWW is a huge chance to finally give the  
visually impaired access to thousands of books, newspapers,  etc.  
without waiting for the braille version that may or may not be  
published one day.

As I stated earlier, the fact that a tag, attribute etc. is not  
widely used or is not used properly should not be an argument to drop  
For example, dozens of web sites don't use  "alt"  in a meaningful  
manner (eg:  alt="photo" rather than alt="my Golden Retriever puppy  
Buster"). About 95% of web sites are not valid HTML. Does that mean  
"the market has spoken" and we are no longer required to use  
meaningful alt text and that we can abandon validation all together?

Again, as long as we don''t have something better than longdesc we  
should keep it in.

Please also read this article regarding a ruling in which a federal  
judge allows to sue a retailer if its website is inaccessible to the  
blind (Northern District of California Case No. C 06-01802 MHP) and http://www.out-
Looks, like people start demanding accessible websites rather than  
just  patiently waiting for businesses and the developer community to  
stop ignoring them.


On Jun 24, 2007, at 12:56 PM, Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:

> what is the point claiming the market has spoken, when most authors
> and authoring tools don't provide or promote the use of LONGDESC,
> the summary attribute for TABLE, and other accessibility oriented
> markup?
> that is the point of the Web Accessibility Initiative at the W3C -- to
> provide means for making markup as accessible as possible...   the
> point is EQUAL ACCESS not market share...  the argument that the
> market doesn't support accessible markup is, well, a word i
> probably shouldn't use in a public forum -- the so-called market
> for which accessibility oriented markup exists is a fraction of the
> overall market, but that shouldn't make our right to equal access
> dependent upon market forces...  who would have thought, 25 years
> ago, that there would be curb-cuts on most street corners and
> ramps at most public accomodations?  the argument was made then
> that it is too much of an economic outlay to justify the small numbers
> of those it would help -- and then people using strollers and shopping
> carts started to use them, and i doubt if the teenagers skateboarding
> down the ramp at my local bank know why there is a ramp there, other
> than for their skateboarding pleasure...
> markup isn't and shouldn't be a popularity contest -- i'm sure that  
> the
> number of CENTER elements on the web outnumbers the uses of
> LONGDESC, but a need should NOT be trumped by a perceived rejection
> of accessibility oriented markup by the market...
> the lack of market share argument simply doesn't hold water when
> discussing accessibility and usability concerns,
> the market has NOT spoken; it has simply ignored the needs of those of
> us who couldn't use today's web without the accessibility features  
> added
> to HTML 4.01
> gregory.
> --------------------------------------------------------
> Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves.
>                               -- Gene Fowler (1890-1960)
> --------------------------------------------------------
> Gregory J. Rosmaita:
> Camera Obscura:
> --------------------------------------------------------
> ---------- Original Message -----------
> From: Henri Sivonen <>
> To: "Gregory J.Rosmaita" <>
> Cc: James Graham <>, HTML WG <>
> Sent: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 08:05:10 +0300
> Subject: Re: fear of "invisible metadata" [was Re: retention of  
> summary
> attribute for TABLE element]
>> On Jun 18, 2007, at 19:01, Gregory J. Rosmaita wrote:
>>>> Summary is explicitly invisible metadata and therefore is more
>>>> likely to be missing or inaccurate than data that is visible to
>>>> all UAs.
>>> 1. poor authoring practices should NOT sway or inform our decisions
>>> -- if
>>> markup is being misused, we need to be more precise in the
>>> definitions of
>>> elements and properties,
>> I disagree. If a markup feature doesn't get used in the wanted
>> ways  virtually all the time, the feature has failed in the
>> market. More  precise definitions don't really help if a given
>> feature is onerous  to author for or doesn't appear to yield a
>> benefit (as perceived by  the majority of authors). A dead
>> letter in the spec doesn't help  accessibility.
>>> AND we must insist that -- just as ALT is
>>> required for an image -- summary be a REQUIRED attribute of the  
>>> element
>> I strongly disagree. You cannot make people provide metadata by
>> vehemently insisting that they do. Experience with alt suggests
>> that  if you require a piece of data to be present for
>> conformance, there  will be an arms race between conformance
>> checkers and authoring tools  where the authoring tools generate
>> useless or harmful placeholder  data that is a step more complex
>> than what conformance checkers can  detect as a bogus placeholder.
>> Making a requirement that in practice leads to polluting the
>> user  experience with bogus placeholder data is not going to
>> help  accessibility in practice.
>>> 2. invisible to whom?
>> To the majority of authors. The point is that if authors don't
>> notice  that their documents contain wrong metadata, the wrong
>> data will stay  there and pollute the metadata space making it
>> less useful.
>>> what kind of logic is that?  the whole damn document is
>>> invisible to blind users, or only partially visible to low vision
>>> users,
>>> so i think your fear of quote invisible unquote metadata is
>>> unfounded and
>>> unrealistic...
>> The data that is perceptible to the author and to all users
>> (that is,  the prose that is rendered somehow to everyone) is
>> the most likely to  be up to date and correct.
>> -- 
>> Henri Sivonen
> ------- End of Original Message -------

Received on Tuesday, 26 June 2007 00:34:12 UTC