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Re: WebAIM Discussion List Digest 16.08.2004.


From: Mark Stimson
Date: Aug 16, 2004 8:01AM

I would like to add to Shawn's point by saying "just because a site is
all-text does not mean it is accessible." I have seen examples of this many


Mark Stimson, Ph.D.
Access Technology Specialist
Sensory Access Foundation
1142 West Evelyn Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Phone: 408-245-7330, ext 32
Fax: 408-245-3762

SAF Mission: To assist people who are blind or visually impaired to obtain
or retain competitive employment by providing the highest quality access
technology assessment, computer training, job placement and accommodation
services with a goal of achieving 100% job retention.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 3:01 AM
To: Mark Stimson
Subject: WebAIM Discussion List Digest 16.08.2004.

WebAIM Discussion List Digest 16.08.2004.
Subject: Re: WebAIM Discussion List Digest 14.08.2004.
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004 13:49:42 -0600


<> I have posted before to this list the dangers of text versions for
accessibility. Those who have seen this before, please excuse the repeat. I
feel compelled to send it again as the issue keeps coming up...text-only
versions are rarely totally equivalent in content to the graphic ("real")
version ...


This is often true. The text only versions like those from Lift are
intermediate measures designed to help large sites get some kind of
accessibility compliance within a reasonable time frame and cost. I was told
that eventually such systems will include images. They can provide routines
that convert some of the structures in an inaccessible page to something
more accessible.

I once worked on a split site constructed with a content management system.
Both sites were generated from the same data so the content was always the
same; a better heading structure was implemented in the accessible version
and all non data tables removed. Each version of the site was generated as
hard HTML pages to the Web server, so there was no on-the-fly conversion of
pages. Usability specialists working on the project wanted the split design
because visual usability was a big part of the project, and CSS was not
implemented well enough in browsers then to create a single site that had
all the features wanted.

All the essential content and interaction needs to be in any site that has a
split design. There is no reason why a site cannot have slight differences
in visual appearance, navigation, and structure for different browsers and
devices as long as there is a way to make sure the content is and function
is available to all. But it is simpler now to design a single site than it
was, say, five years ago. The problem is it often is not done and the
"text-only" version is short changed on content. Text-only conversion such
as the Lift Transcoder can help an accessibility ignorant development teams
at least improve output for users of screen readers and other devices until
they can get their finances and act together better. Even with a fully
accessible site, a text transcoder version might be able to be used to
provide a variant of the site that works better for, say, a text only PDA,
working as something between a fully hard-coded HTML site and a
sophisticated, full-blown content management system.

Clearly designing for accessibility at the beginning of a project is better
than retrofitting it to a purely graphical design. With large sites, changes
often have to be incremental, so we should applaud if there is only some
improvement even if it falls short of what is really needed. A text
transcoder can be considered as part of the solution even if it is not the
final solution. As long as the organization has the goal of real
accessibility for their web site and continues to pursue that goal, a text
version as an intermediate part of the process can be justified.

Terence de Giere

Subject: Question on accessible literature
Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004 17:28:38 -0600

I have really been struggling with "Constructing Accessible Websites" by Jim
Thatcher, Cynthia Waddell, Shawn Lawton Henry, Sarah Swierenga, Mark Urban,
Michael Burks, Paul Bohman, Publisher: APress; Reprint edition (July 14,
2003) -- not the content, just the print. It is really small, the soft
cover book is an odd size and heavy. It is hard to read with a magnifying

Is there an accessible form of this text in HTML or some other coded
character format? Once I get a such a copy, I can civilize it myself with
style sheets.

Thank You,