Re: Internal data (was Re: Speech-enabling approach) (fwd)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 11:36:43 -0500 (EST)
From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@xxxxxx>
Reply-To: blinux-list@xxxxxxxxxx
To: "Linux General Discussion for Blind Users (mailing list)"
Subject: Re: Internal data (was Re: Speech-enabling approach) (fwd)
Resent-Date: 15 Mar 1999 16:45:56 -0000
Resent-From: blinux-list@xxxxxxxxxx
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What I do for a living (and there are others on this list who do it too)
is work on convincing sighted people to produce Web Content which can be
used properly by blind people (and by deaf people, by people with limitied
mobility, and all the other people out there in cyberspace).

I work for the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative, whose purpose is to
make the web accessible to people (more or less) both by figuring out
technical parts of the solution, and by convincing people that it's "the
right thing to do".

So a quick and very idiosyncratic summary of what's on this week:

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines - how to make stuff for the web
that is useful to everyone - is in its final week of public review.
Further details at

The Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines group have just been
discussing (again) why it is important to make authoring tools which not
only produce accessible code (ie which uses ALT text properly, asking the
author the right questions and providing the right help) but which are
themselves accessible. If you are an authoring tool developer, in
particular, we would be keen to hear from you. Further details at

The User Agent Guidelines group are discussing the things which browsers
need to do themselves, and what information they need to make available to
screen readers, braille displays, etc. I am certain they would welcome
review of their documents by people who are familiar with the problems.

I am idly thinking about whether it is possible to make Amaya accessible.
It is a combined browser and editor, the source code is (or is about to be
- I am not sure of the release cycles) freely available, and it runs under
Xwindows and Win32. I like it a lot for producing code, but it is only
developed as a testbed platform, and making it more accessible would be a
good thing.

And there are other people at work too.

Charles McCathieNevile

On Mon, 15 Mar 1999, Dave Mielke wrote:

  A person replied to me privately regarding a statement which I'd made. In my
  original message I'd made a statement regarding the difficulty of convincing
  sighted people to use whatever web accessibility features for blind people are
  introduced, and part of my reply to him contains some clarifying remarks with
  respect to this issue. Here, then, is a forwarded copy of that part of my
  ---------- Forwarded message ----------
  >You mentioned making web pages more friendly to the blind user.  I'm
  >curious -- what would that entail?  
  There is even a very commonly available tool today which could be used by all,
  and isn't. Every IMG element has an ALT tag via which one can supply a textual
  string which describes whatever the graphic is. All non-graphical browsers pick
  up this string and display it instead of the image. While it's been there for
  years, the average sighted user is not sensitive to the fact that he should
  always be using it. Those who do, often are very careless with what they put in
  it so that, even though a string gets displayed, it's not very helpful.
  Another example of what's already available today is that frames can be named.
  I can't count any more the number of times I've come across frames named "top"
  and "bottom", or "left" and "right", rather than something truly meaningful
  with respect to their content so that I would more quickly be able to figure
  out which one of them to select.
  >I do know, for instance (I don't know
  >if you've heard of this) that there is a markup language that contains
  >pronunciation tags a speech engine can pick up.  
  I've heard of this sort of thing, though I've never actually went looking for
  it in order to give it a try. Once again, though, it's questionable whether or
  not sighted people will actually learn to use it effectively. The major problem
  is that they do not know any blind people who could try it out for them before
  they inflict it on the public at large. I rather suspect, perhaps far too
  pessimistically, that such a facility would be mostly abused, e.g. so that
  one's pages will make cutsy sounds in order to impress th friends of their
  Dave Mielke           | 856 Grenon Avenue | I believe that the Bible is the
  Phone: 1-613-726-0014 | Ottawa, Ontario   | Word of God. Please contact me
  EMail: dave@xxxxxxxxx | Canada  K2B 6G3   | if you're concerned about Hell.
  Send your message for blinux-list to blinux-list@xxxxxxxxxx
  Blinux software archive at
  Blinux web page at
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  with subject line: unsubscribe

--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@xxxxxx
phone: +1 617 258 0992
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA

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