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Tech - Posts to comp.infosystems.www.*

From: "Philipp Lenssen" <phil@mrinfo.de>
Newsgroups: comp.infosystems.www.authoring.site-design
Subject: Re: Web Design Text-Only option
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2001 13:52:42 +0200
Message-ID: <9n7o10$8fo$2@swifty.westend.com>
"Marian Heddesheimer" <heddesheimer@yahoo.de> wrote in message
> On 5 Sep 2001 17:32:44 -0700, wood@houston.rr.com (Bigmellow) wrote:
> >what can I do to make the site text only?? The entire site for
> >compliance with disability laws.
> If you use dynamic content you can just provide a HTML-Template and
> fill in the content with alle the images from a separate textfile or a
> database. So you will be able to provide a "fancy" version, a raw text
> version and a printer friednly version without changing the content at
> all.

Or, you could just use CSS and seperate the stylesheets by media. The client
will decide what format is needed (screen, print etc.) and pull the
stylesheet. I don't see a need for a database/ template system when all you
want to do is provide a "printer friendly" version. A simple script that
will delete CSS links from the HTML will even satisfy Netscape 4x's buggy
media print implementation (or lack of).

In certain cases yes, different media need different content. I wouldn't
want to wade through a chapter of a book on my WAP phone, I would prefer
screen. Just as I wouldn't want to wade through a whole book on the screen,
and would prefer print (or in the not-so-distant-future, the human-like
voice of a text-to-speech engine).
To that, I don't see an easy, automatized solution, other than "cut the text
off after x characters" (which is what e.g. Google does when it converts
HTML to WML for mobile phone displays) -- which is not a very satisfying in
the end.
I suppose the way to go here would be to make up your own document in XML,
clearly structure the meaning of everything (or to use clearly defined
classes in HTML documents). There will be a whole lot of "contentual" work
to convert the same text to completely different needs in completely
different lengths.

> For compliance with disability laws, it might be sufficient to add
> alt-tags to the images and use a table layout that can be navigated
> easily.

You're seriously suggesting table layout "that can be navigated easily" for
accessibility needs?
"Use lots of duct tape when you build your house out of paper."
Why not build it weather-resistent in the first place?
My suggestion is reading through the W3C Accessibility Guidelines:

And as Yucca pointed out, there's no easy answer, like just using
alt-attributes. Using an empty value if you're unsure about what belongs
there would be better than meaningless or misleading text, like "Company
Logo", "29KB", or "Image loading, please wait".
Well, in another way the answer is easier than one might think. Mostly, it's
the too much, not the too little, that will get in the way of accessibility.

Philipp Lenssen
M+R Infosysteme