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lynx-dev Break this page!
lynx-dev Break this page!
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 11:58:38 -0500
Aaron Doust and I have been working on an experiment in access to photographs
contained in Web pages.
There are three issues at stake:
1. Not all browsers can display graphics. Lynx and WannaBe are text-only
browsers, for example.
2. Some nondisabled netters surf the Web with graphics loading turned off
because it's faster.
3. Blind and visually-impaired people can't see the graphics or can't see them
well, and/or may also be using a text-only browser or have graphics loading
Four Web pages at Aaron's site have been developed to show how, in the real
world, this problem can be solved. We are bringing accessibility out of the
realm of the theoretical here.
First of all, every image on Aaron's site (not just the test pages in question)
now has an alt text, which is required in HTML 4.0 and has always been
recommended in previous versions of HTML. A great many Web authors fail to
include the dead-simple feature of alt texts, which by themselves make a site
easier to use for people in the three categories above.
We have produced four subpages whose photos have written descriptions. (They're
Aaron's photos and he wrote the HTML; I wrote the descriptions.) The photos
depict various biketrials riders in Perth, Australia.
If the topic isn't of much interest to you, well, make allowances. The point
here is that even a hobbyist page can be accessible, and if hobbyist pages can
be, corporate Web sites easily can be accessible, too.
There are four pages with four different approaches. Note that the URLs are
each a mile long.
These photos use a novel approach of linking a text description to the actual
caption of the photo. You thus have three ways to interpret the photo without
graphics: From the alt text, from the written caption, and from the long
description that caption links to. This approach works in, say, journalism
sites where photos are given captions, as was the convention in the print
newspapers they often emulate. It solves the problem of cluttering up pages
with D. links to descriptions. It introduces its own problem of cluttering
pages with two visible descriptions and one invisible description all of the
Here, we adhere to the HTML 4.0 standard for the LONGDESC tag for long
descriptions. Since no browser anywhere in the universe supports this tag, the
best you're going to do with this page is to view the source code and admire
its brilliance. Perhaps version 5.0 of Netscape and Explorer will properly
support LONGDESC. Or perhaps Opera will beat them to it.
In this page, all photos have descriptions, links to which are given by (D).
But all the descriptions are in one single file with different <#anchor> links.
All photos have descriptions, links to which are given by (D). All descriptions
occupy their own separate files.
Other techniques we could have used, but did not, include setting up a
neighbouring single-pixel GIF the same height as the image that is itself a
link to the long description. This is an unsatisfactory solution for various
reasons. If you're using a graphical browser with graphics turned off, your
font size is quite unlikely to be small enough to display the (D) or D. so that
you can actually click the thing. If you have graphics loading turned on, you
never see the link, and might notice it only if you catch the status line
changing as you happen to move the mouse over it. This technique tends to
render you more blind than you already are. Solely in text-only browsers does
this approach provide accessibility and elegance.
to click the image for a full description when your cursor hovers over the
because selecting the image brings up a full-size version of the photo. Still,
it works in two other sites:
...which actually do a number of good things for accessibility and are
We did not write descriptions of the entire pages as a visual whole, and all
the images are presented within tables. Those may be problems for some visitors.
What we want you to do is to BREAK OUR PAGES. Load the four subpages in every
conceivable combination of platform, browser, graphics mode, and assistive
technology. The more unlikely, the better. We especially want to hear from PDA
users (like Newtons or PalmPilots) and people using speech output. Tell us how
the pages look and how easy or difficult they are for you to navigate and
interpret. Also, if you want to really go to town here, try fiddling with your
settings to BREAK THE PAGE. Select, for example, a 96-point font, or a 6-point
font. Then ask all your friends, with their own odd little settings, to try to
BREAK THE PAGE. (Forward and post this message anywhere you want.)
Every aspect is up for discussion, from coding to appearance to writing. All
suggestions articulated in a reasonably good-natured tone will be considered,
and we may update the pages over time to try new things.
Give us feedback:
However, to minimize unnecessary cross-posting, you may wish to limit your
responses to us directly and not to the various mailing lists. Collated
comments will be forwarded in due course.
Listmanagerboy, Media Access
- lynx-dev Break this page!,
Joe Clark <=