Wendy's unillustrated notes, thoughts, and questions about the recent WCAG WG "Illustrating Guidelines" thread


Having reread the Illustrating Guidelines thread, here are the notes that I'm using to help me get my head around the issue. It might help others, it might not. It's dense text. We'll see who has the time and energy to read through it. I have highlighted important points for those who want to skim quickly to get a summary. Note that points are highlighted with the <strong> element and appear in bold face font. Questions that I ask and reactions to thoughts of others are highlighted with the <em> element and appear in italic font.


Axes of discussion

These are based on observations of the list discussions and a discussion I had with Judy. Trying to tease out the issues so that we might be able to tackle each one separately rather than all together in one shot.

Rough summary of main points of discussion

Anne and Lisa claim that illustrating content significantly increases its understandability. Illustration is defined by Anne as [@@find ref] this is different than [@@find ref, her distinctions]. Anne also claims that there are decades worth of research showing that multimedia significantly increases the understandability of text.

Anne is pushing for a requirement that all content must be illustrated. This is different than saying every "concept" must be illustrated.

Matt claims that we are all schooled in speaking and writing, that composition is required.

Anne claims that the majority of students are taught to read and write, many are not and learn to communicate through images and other media, depending on their strengths and weaknesses.

Lisa supports this claim - from personal experience.

We all seem to agree that illustrating WCAG 2.0 is a good idea and appreciate Anne's suggestions.

Jason wants hard evidence, but Anne asks which evidence made us require alt-text for images?

Matt argues that since only a portion of us are taught to create effective images that requiring everyone to do so would result in lots of silly images. He is also concerned about anything that requires a change in tools or author processes.

Charles notes that changes are required already due to new technologies as well as WCAG, 508, etc. Current tools are not adequate and he hopes they do change. I strongly agree with this.

Are images universal? There is debate about this.


I went on a search for the hard evidence that Jason requested and here's what I found. I interspersed questions and comments. These are denoted by emphasis (the <em> element).

To do's and questions


  1. The research shows that there is strong agreement among teachers that multimedia can increase students ability to learn to read and to to learn concepts.
  2. There are different types of learning and working styles. We each have our own preferences and styles.
  3. Illustrating WCAG 2.0 as best as we can would be a good thing. I have contacted a professional graphic designer for help with this.

Open issues

  1. What do we require of all content?
  2. What do we strongly suggest for all content?

$Date: 2001/05/15 23:54:10 $ Wendy Chisholm