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[HTML5 ALT] alt text is brief; example 6.1 should be modified or deleted

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2010 08:17:03 +0100
To: sfaulkner@paciellogroup.com
Cc: public-html-a11y@w3.org, wai-xtech@w3.org
Message-Id: <20100603071555.M49476@hicom.net>
aloha, steve!

overall, i am really impressed with the work you've done on 
the HTML5 Techniques for providing useful text alternatives
draft (congrats on getting a public draft approved) -- but in 
re-reading and discussing the draft i've run into the same reaction 
i first had when i reviewed an earlier draft of the document, and i 
believe it is an example that you inherited from a previous HTML5 
draft:

QUOTE source="http://dev.w3.org/html5/alt-techniques/#images-enhance"

Example 6.1
Here is an example of an image closely related to the subject matter of 
the page content but not directly discussed. An image of a painting 
inspired by a poem, on a page reciting that poem. The following snippet 
shows an example. The image is a painting titled the "Lady of Shallot", 
it is inspired by the poem and its subject matter is derived from the 
poem. Therefore it is strongly recommended that a text alternative is 
provided. The description of the content of the image would be redundant 
for users who can view the image, so the appropriate place to put it is 
in the alt attribute.

Example code: 

<hgroup><h1>The Lady of Shalott</h1>
<h2>A poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson</h2></hgroup>
<figure><img src="shalott.jpeg" alt="A painting of a young women with 
long hair sitting in a wooden boat, she is wearing a flowing white 
dress. A large piece of intricately patterned fabric is draped over 
the side. In her right hand she holds the chain mooring the boat. Her 
expression is mournful. She stares at a crucifix lying in front of 
her. Beside it are three candles. Two have blown out."></figure>
UNQUOTE

example 6.1 is a poor example of alt text useage, and as such should 
be deleted or modified -- alt text is the brief "at a glance" or 
"congnative thumbnail", so the extremely long value defined for the 
example isn't appropriate as alt text, but as a concise long 
description; alt text needs to be terse for a number of reasons, 
including usability, extremely limited viewports, small amount of video 
"real estate" (iPad and smaller devices) etc.

358 characters isn't a terse descriptor or cognative thumbnail -- this 
seems to me a case where a picture may be worth at least 358 words, but 
only make me listen to all 365 if i want/need to if i ask for it, 
explicitly or via user preferences -- i also need a means of being 
alerted that a longer description is available, and, if need be, need
to have side-by-side exposition of longdesc with image option available, 
for someone with an EXTREMELY limited viewport or a user with a cognative 
disability with or without AT, who is attempting to compile a 
comprehensive view of the image being described

is this something that can be fixed?  do you think it advisable to 
state only "terse, short, cognitive thumbnails, such as those used 
in the examples below" be used for alt values, as i for one would not 
want to set a hard cap on the MaxValue of alt text, but do want 
developers/content creators to realize just what alt text actually 
is and what longer descriptors are, as well as the need for robust 
support for them

apologies for not having commented upon this earlier -- it fell through 
the holes in the sieve i call my mind and slipped down on my ToDo list 
until it was off my radar until i was very recently reminded of it -- 
thanks to all who helped "jog" my memory...

gregory.
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                Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
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Received on Thursday, 3 June 2010 07:17:33 GMT

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