W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html-a11y@w3.org > November 2012

alt text in HTML5

From: Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2012 16:31:18 +0000
Message-ID: <CA+ri+VmWN1qxxgxpjac0cMKiKB8VrU3+Rw9BqYSoKpHkzWg_sg@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-html-a11y@w3.org
Hi all,

chair hat off

My take on current situation:

In HTML5 we have a set of normative authoring requirements on what are
appropriate text alternatives when an <img> is used is a range of contexts.

   1. General
               2. A link or button containing nothing but the
               3. A phrase or paragraph with an alternative
               graphical representation: charts, diagrams, graphs,
maps, illustrations<http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/the-img-element.html#a-phrase-or-paragraph-with-an-alternative-graphical-representation:-charts,-diagrams,-graphs,-maps,-illustrations>
               4. A short phrase or label with an alternative
               graphical representation: icons,
               5. Text that has been rendered to a graphic for
               6. A graphical representation of some of the
               7. A purely decorative image that doesn't add any
               8. A group of images that form a single larger
               picture with no
               9. A group of images that form a single larger
               picture with
               10. A key part of the
               11. An image not intended for the

*NOTE:* there was, but is no longer any disagreement on *machine
checkable*alt requirements in HTML5, the issues in this regards have
been resolved,
so we are *ONLY* talking about the normative authoring requirements that
involve human judgement to interpret conformance:

Some of above set of requirements diverge from WCAG 2.0 advice and general
agreement in the accessibility community [2].

In the history of the working group there have been attempts to:

         Get the individual requirements modified to agree with WCAG 2.0

         Get the requirements be made informative instead of normative

         Get the requirements moved out of the spec and instead point to
WCAG advice and requirements

         Get the requirements moved out of the spec and instead point to
the HTML5: alt techniques document.

None of the above have been successful to date.

My personal take on what needs to occur before HTML5 becomes a

Options (from most preferred):

1.  Current normative non machine checkable requirements removed from HTML5
spec, replaced with pointer to HTML5 alt document. HTML5 alt document
changed from normative to informative. Going forward document stays in HTML
WG, but becomes the responsibility of the a11y taskforce.

2.  If 1 cannot be achieved then normative requirements in spec change to
informative and where they diverge from WCAG they are modified, and a
pointer to HTML5 alt document is added as a reference to more detailed
informative advice (alt doc changed to informative and is responsibility of

3.  If neither 1 or 2 cannot be achieved then alt techniques doc stays as
normative and stays where it is.

4.  If normative requirements stay in spec, but alt techniques doc is
forced to informative, then objection raised on HTML5

[1] http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/IssueAltAttribute

with regards

Steve Faulkner
Technical Director - TPG

www.paciellogroup.com | www.HTML5accessibility.com |
HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives -
Web Accessibility Toolbar - www.paciellogroup.com/resources/wat-ie-about.html
Received on Thursday, 15 November 2012 16:32:28 UTC

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