Re: New Topic: HTML and the Visually Impaired [long]

Terry Allen <>
Date: Mon, 5 Sep 94 11:42:15 EDT
Message-id: <199409051539.IAA04735@rock>
Precedence: bulk
From: Terry Allen <>
To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: New Topic: HTML and the Visually Impaired [long]
X-Listprocessor-Version: 6.0c -- ListProcessor by Anastasios Kotsikonas
X-Comment: HTML Working Group (Private)
| In effect, since ICADD-tagged files
| can be created from *any DTD with the fixed attributes* this would
| allow any documents conforming to such DTDs to be rendered using
| WWW browsers without having to convert them *both* into HTML and
| ICADD. (The latter is what UCLA now does with its campus-wide

But if the HTML DTD has these atts, then conversion into HTML only
would suffice.

| information service.) Many books, particularly textbooks,
| need to be transformed into the ICADD tagset in order to easily
| be printed in Braille or fed into synthesized voice readers (such
| as IBM's Book Manager which does a great job for visually impaired
| people). Accordingly, since that text exists in that form, it seems
| to me to make sense to be able to distribute those files in
| electronic form for use with free browsers.

Right, but this could be in HTML instead of ICADD proper.  In
other words, if HTML has ICADD fixed atts, it's a better presentation
format than ICADD-DTD-encoding.

(Collapsing the argument a bit, as I understand it better:)
So you want to be able to run ICADD files through Mosaic, and
need a few extra elements, such as BOX.

| > | This is a sidebar. Remember that most ICADD usage is for textbooks
| > | which, in the modern style, are sidebar-rich. I don't think we
| > | can actually leave it out if we want to support ICADD files. That
| > | is, we have to do something with a file that has a SIDEBAR in it,
| > | rather than just format it as a paragraph. HTML is pretty specific
| > | about online presentation already. I'm not convinced that this
| > | <HR> approach is so out of keeping.

I'm still uneasy about sidebars.  You are suggesting, I think,
that the aliasing be just to HR/(P|UL|etc)+/HR; doesn't that mean
that we can get by without an actual BOX element in HTML?  

Here's what makes me uneasiest:

| If there's nothing in the HTML DTD that matches the concept, then it
| doesn't get used, that's all. But if it is, then it lets HTML authors
| use the sidebar concept (since parallel text of this sort does
| exist and is useful); it lets browser-makers implement, no doubt in
| interesting ways, such a construct; and, when an ICADD file comes
| along that uses BOX, it lets that be displayed.

I see HTML as (potentially, at least) a very useful set of presentation
semantics for online rendering.  I can imagine an online sidebar 
as another node/file linked to the original, and would rather
map it that way.  If the element is put into the DTD people will start 
using it and making up renderings for it when they may be able to get the
same result more straightforwardly.  I don't use the term "Tag
Abuse" often, but this would be a case of it.

| The State of Texas has established that textbook publishers must supply
| texts (by a certain date) only in SGML. They prefer the AAP Book DTD
| since it was designed by book publishers for trade books -- not because
| it has the fixed attributes. Alternatively, a publisher can use *any*
| DTD, insert the fixed attributes, and deliver files with ICADD markup.

Then we're home free.  As fixed atts are added to more and more 
common DTDs, the need, even desireability, of encoding docs in 
ICADD-DTD markup disappears.  Do I understand correctly from this
and your previous postings that while the ICADD DTD is an ISO
standard it's not considered fully cooked (or more kindly, early
revisions are considered useful)?  Rather different from most
ISO standanrds.

| And yes, it is an argument for putting the SDA attribs into the AAP
| DTDs, although, since 12083 is supposed to replace the AAP set, it's
| kind of backwards. Although, on the other hand, the Texas law allows
| for AAP conformance for textbooks.

I was referring to 12083 as the AAP DTDs, apparently incorrectly.

| All I'm hoping will happen is for HTML to include the handful of ICADD
| elements that don't map directly to existing HTML elements; for 
| browser-makers to alias the handful of isomorphic elements; and for
| agreement from everyone (and comments thus far suggest that this *is*
| agreed) that we can publish HTML 2.0 with the SDA attributes built in.
| (That's work I'll do as whatever moment seems right.)

I now understand much better, Yuri; let's mull over this mapping
problem some more and see if we can get a better result.  Would it
be too difficult to map-on-the-fly a BOX to a new HTML instance
with a link to it that has "See Sidebar" as its hot spot?  After
all, a sidebar is really only out-of-flow material, often allowed
to float in the context of page composition; we don't need to
worry about floats online, and we can reproduce the effect of
being out of flow by linking.

Terry Allen  (   Editor, Digital Media Group
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.    Sebastopol, Calif., 95472