W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html-a11y@w3.org > August 2011

Fwd: Proposal: ALT attibute for text

From: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2011 12:03:50 -0500
Message-ID: <CAOavpvdJujOJ6qGw6ycURWDZxpgPhHBaiMRMrhsGKr+LdEKTdw@mail.gmail.com>
To: HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, LĂ©onie Watson <lwatson@nomensa.com>
Hi all,

 From the HTML comments list for the task force and bug team's information:

I don't think that the comment hasn't been transferred to Bugzilla yet.

Best Regards,

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Clint Goss <clint@goss.com>
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2011 08:45:14 -0400
Subject: Proposal: ALT attibute for text
To: public-html-comments@w3.org

Hello -

I have stumbled across what I believe to be a shortcoming of HTML with
respect to blind and limited-sight users. I am not a regular
member of W3C (just a "public member"), so I am using this channel to
provide this comment / feedback.

The Issue:

The ALT attribute is provided for a small set of tags to specify
alternate text for screen readers or other assistive technologies.
The tags for which the ALT attribute is specified are those portions
of an HTML that cannot be easily rendered as speech, such as
<img>, <area>, and <input>.

However, there is no way to specify alternate text for text itself.

In working on an resource site relating to music, I have had numerous
interactions with blind musicians who use JAWS to render text
to speech. There are portions of text that can easily be specified in
text that render well visually, but which no screen reader can
reasonably be expected to render clearly as speech. This significantly
hampers the understanding of the text for blind users.

For example, many web sites specify fingerings for Native American
Flutes using a text based system commonly known as SNAFT. I have
a page which describes SNAFT here:


As an example, a finger position with the top three holes closed and
the bottom three open would be written in SNAFT text as:
<xxx|ooo. This is rendered poorly by all screen readers I have tried.

I would propose that the <span> tag be expanded to allow the ALT
attribute. The above SNAFT example could be authored as:

  <span alt="Finger diagram holes 1 closed 2 closed 3 closed, holes 4
open 5 open 6 open">&lt;xxx|ooo</span>

I have not looked into other compelling uses for this proposal, but I
would be willing to participate in an effort to improve the
HTML spec in this direction.

-- Clint Goss, Ph. D.
Web: www.goss.com
Email: clint@goss.com

Laura L. Carlson
Received on Wednesday, 24 August 2011 17:04:17 UTC

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