[whatwg] <video> element feedback

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at googlemail.com
Tue Mar 20 14:33:35 PDT 2007

Ian Hickson wrote:

> I don't think such metadata attributes would help. They would just be 
> ignored by most authors and incorrectly set by many others.

I absolutely agree, but this is opt-in metadata so the first flaw
("ignored by most authors") is by design. Such authors are precisely the
sort of authors who cannot be trusted to produce accessible content or
rate content correctly. The alt attribute is often incorrectly set by
many authors, but on balance it's still better than no alt attribute. If
most deliberately accessible content is labelled as such, then that
would be an improvement on the current situation, since the number of
false positives would be vastly reduced. It's true that such attributes
might cause some unlabelled accessible content to be ignored, but such
content is perhaps at an even /higher/ risk of being ignored when people
with differing abilities dismiss entire technologies as inaccessible

Having said that, such flags might be good material for some sort of
complex microformat.

Obviously a preferable solution would be for everyone to create
accessible content using open technologies in the first place, and we
must do everything we can to encourage and enable that. But falling
short of such revolutions, can anyone suggest an alternative way of
limiting the disillusion caused by inaccessible downloads?

What would happen if the <video> element actually contained <audio>
elements for the audio, <audiodescription> elements for the audio
descriptions, <caption> elements for the captions, and <subtitle>
elements for the subtitles? Would it be technologically possible for
HTML elements to act as containers in that way? Alternatively (thinking
of XSPF playlists), what if <video>'s src attribute pointed to an XML
(or text/html-esque) file which contained these separate elements? It
would be a powerful way of building a level of transparent accessibility
into the system, without requiring users to download and play
high-bandwidth content to find out if it has the features they need.

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

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