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

Re: Proposal: ALT attibute for text

From: T.J. Crowder <tj@crowdersoftware.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2011 08:55:49 +0100
Message-ID: <CAH65x-z3E8VX2h906=CuonhS7OthQAm=Y42EE29X5O5OGdpnqw@mail.gmail.com>
To: Clint Goss <clint@goss.com>
Cc: public-html-comments@w3.org

Rather than expanding the `alt` attribute, which is not just related to
assistive technologies and has various shortcomings, I think this is covered
by ARIA <http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/aria/>, isn't it? (A genuine question, I
don't know enough about ARIA and need to learn more). Probably by assigning
a `role` <http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/aria/roles#role_definitions> and an

Your example might be ARIA-enabled something like this:

<span role="img" aria-describedby="flutexxxIooo">&lt;xxx|ooo</span>

...where somewhere in the document there is a master set of elements for
each of the flute diagrams (or just the ones used in the text, to save

<span id="flutexxxIooo">Finger diagram holes 1 closed 2 closed 3 closed,
holes 4 open 5 open 6 open</span>

(I presume that these would be in a display: none container or something,
again my ARIA-fu is weak so I don't know how you include content that's
solely for assistive tech use.)

T.J. Crowder
Independent Software Engineer
tj / crowder software / com
www / crowder software / com

On 23 August 2011 13:45, Clint Goss <clint@goss.com> wrote:

> 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:
>  http://www.Flutopedia.com/snaft.htm
> 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
Received on Wednesday, 24 August 2011 07:56:47 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 6 January 2015 20:26:27 UTC