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I think quite an important bit missing in sibling comments is web browsers and setups (in addition to screenreaders) other than the most popular ones. If an HTML document is composed as a document (i.e., using semantic markup, instead of focusing on exact visual representation), it has a decent chance to be usable in textual and lightweight browsers, and to look decently in mainstream browsers in a few years as well.

To get an illustration, one could browse WWW in such a browser (w3m, links, lynx, netsurf, etc), or even in FF with customizations, and/or browse web.archive.org (particularly websites from a decade or two ago) using a mainstream browser: basic HTML pages tend to be nice and accessible, while the ones using graphics, CSS (possibly optimized for 1024x768 or a similar resolution), and Flash/Java/JS/etc are usually a pain to get information from. I think most of the contemporary websites would produce a similar impression in another decade.

Another example where semantic markup matters is conversion into other formats.




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