Re: Initial Draft --Cascaded Speech Style Sheets

David Seibert (
Wed, 14 Feb 1996 14:31:33 -0500 (EST)

I agree with Evan's comments on named values for the attributes. Unless
you want to have only a small group of authors use aural stylesheets, you
need to allow people to specify values for almost every attribute in
normal language. Most of the ideas in the initial draft sound good to
me, except for this flaw. The use of normal language would also
facilitate multilingual use of stylesheets; for example, aural emphasis
is given differently in English than in French, and this difference could
be accommodated much more simply if the style change were given
descriptively in normal language, which was then translated by the UA.

One other thing that should be included is some attempt to unify the
visual and aural presentation of a document, as Mary Holstege suggested.
Raman says that these ought to be allowed to be orthogonal; this seems to
me to be a bit silly since the ultimate goal of the author is an accurate
representation in the receiver's mind, which should probably ;-) not be
very different in the two cases. The best way to achieve this unity is
by making authors use descriptive rather than prescriptive tags, e.g.,
<strong> rather than <b>, which can be rendered in whatever appropriate
aural or visual styles are available to the UA. This requires a change
in html, rather than in the style sheets, but it is not a difficult
change. The simplest way to achieve this is to make the prescriptive
tags redundant, giving them the value of the nearest equivalent
descriptive tag, which would preserve the backward compatibility of html

This unification of visual and aural presentation would take some thought,
but not an incredible amount, and it could be a very worthwhile project.
To my knowledge, this hasn't been done so far; does anyone out there have
any useful references? Raman's "speak-verbatim.css" (a mere aural
description of the visual layout, that he mentioned in his reply to Mary)
is clearly unsatisfactory, but it didn't seem to be a serius attempt at
solving this problem.

Any comments from the html group? Would the possibility of unifying
presentation styles (visual/aural/maybe even tactile and olfactory) be
alluring enough to convince people to use descriptive rather than
prescriptive tags, which is probably the biggest change that would be
needed to implement this idea?

David Seibert

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