May 2012 Standards Update
We continue to hold steady on the standards front. With the DIAGRAM Content Model essentially final, we await the trigger that will allow the next dot release of the EPUB 3 standard to support @epub:describedAt. That new attribute will allow images to point out to their content model files.
In the meantime, in a setback for HTML5 accessibility, on May 16 the HTML5 chairs issued a decision on a provision in the spec that makes missing @alt valid under certain circumstances. One such circumstance is if the page was created using a markup generator (e.g., a WYSIWYG tool such as Dreamweaver, InDesign, etc.), and if the <meta> element contains the value “generator”, indicating the use of such a markup tool (see the link http://www.w3.org/TR/2010/WD-html5-20100624/embedded-content-1.html#guidance-for-conformance-checkers for the spec language). Earlier this month the WAI accessibility task force submitted a change proposal asking that this provision be removed. In the May 16th decision, the chairs stated that they will not re-open the issue, meaning that the exclusion stands. The full decision can be found at the link http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-a11y/2012May/0094.html.
The entire original change proposal can be found at the link: http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/Issue31cMetaGenerator .
There is no indication at this point what the task force will do next, if anything. Geoff Freed of NCAM will continue to keep the DIAGRAM community updated.
On the EPUB 3 front, the Content Model Working Group met on 5/24 to discuss the EPUB 3 Accessibility Checklist that Matt Garrish is developing as a living compendium to the Accessible EPUB 3 book he authored for O’Reilly. A draft of the checklist is available at this link: http://www.daisy.org/daisy-epub-3-developments. The checklist will serve as a guide for both authors and content creators, as well as for developers seeking to automate at least some part of accessibility checking. DIAGRAM is of course interested in making sure image accessibility is covered in the checklist. We are also exploring how the development work we plan to do to automate image accessibility checks for EPUB 3 can be appropriately folded into any larger project being pursued by IDPF. Coordinating with the larger effort will give us greater traction.