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

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 12:26:08 -0500 (EST)
From: Dave Mielke <dave@xxxxxxxxx>
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 17:36:15 -0000
Resent-From: blinux-list@xxxxxxxxxx
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On Mon, 15 Mar 1999, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>The approach that we try to take in Web Coding is that good design is
>universal design - making things which work for blind users is a first
>class technical problem which is of the same importance as ensuring that
>the graphics standards work, or that the information is transmitted and
>received whole.

While I entirely agree, the problem here, of course, is that a sighted person
is not able to truly verify, on his own, for sure whether or not his work will
in fact do the right thing from the perspective of a blind user. If he's
fortunate enough to know a blind user who's willing to check out all of his
work, that user might be only a speech, or only a braille, user, and he still
won't know for sure whether it'll work well for the other.

The problem, as I see it, is similar to the one which I have, which is making
sure that my work is properly presentable to a sighted person, and I'm very
thankful that my sighted colleagues (there are lots of them as I'm the only
blind employee there) are always willing to have a look at what I've done. I
would think that it's far worse, though, because a sighted person may have no
blind people to assist him.

>HTML provides lots of features for accessibility - ALT, LONGDESC, OBJECT,
>LANG, the use of Aural Style Sheets and the ability of the user to control
>presentation in great detail, the proper use of NOFRAMES, and so on.

Yes, but that's a lot of work to ask someone to get right when his management
is nagging him to meet a deadline. Not only must the author be encouraged to
want to get all of this right, not only must he have a way to verify that what
he has done is effective, but also his management must be encouraged to grant
him the time.

>Convincing people to use these features relies on a number of things - one
>of which is leading by example - build sites which work for everyone, not
>just sighted (nor just blind) people.

Leading by example, an apprach which I also entirely agree with, works best
when there is something to tangibly perceive. It'll be a difficult way to
achieve the goal with accessibility features, though, because a sighted user
won't see anything within the document he's viewing to even clue him into the
fact that it is an accessible document. Very few people look at the HTML source
of what they're browsing, and most of those few who do might just pass off the
extra stuff as interesting but too complex for immediate analyssis.

Please understand that I applaude, and am fully behind, what you guys are
doing. I just don't think that the road you're on is a short or easy one, and
believe that it's a fallacy for people to think that it'll yield results in
anything but the long term. Since I'm a firm believer in the fact that nothing
good in life ever comes easily, I believe that great goals like yours must be
pursued with fervency. We must, however, caution ourselves against a false
sense of optimism.

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.

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