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Re: Proposal: ALT attribute for text

From: Jukka K. Korpela <jukka.k.korpela@kolumbus.fi>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 08:41:22 +0300
Message-ID: <4E55E082.8080007@kolumbus.fi>
To: public-html-comments@w3.org
24.8.2011 23:50, Clint Goss wrote:

> ARIA does seem to be a comprehensive proposal for accessibility.

It is specifically about accessibility (not about the idea of providing 
alternative presentations in general), it is complex, it is meant for 
specialized user agents and assistive software (as opposite to 
mainstream browsers in normal use, the use that most authors and 
developers focus on), and it is difficult to test.

So I'm afraid it will be used by a small minority of authors and 
developers only.

The need for "alternate text" should be much easier to recognize, and it 
a simple solution is available and works, it could be used when the need 
is obvious and the solution helps.

> My concern with all this is more social engineering than definition. I
> think the practicalities of nudging web authors into supporting blind
> and limited-sight viewers are daunting. It’s hard enough to get authors
> to include @alt for images

Indeed.

> (although I was not able to quickly find
> stats on compliance of the mandatory @alt).

One might measure the compliance to the formal requirement of having an 
alt attribute for every <img>. But this would give much too high 
figures, since it is so common to have alt attributes that are useless 
or worse, failing to comply with the requirement that the attribute 
specify a textual replacement for the image.

But _many_ authors _often_ use alt attributes in a useful way, and this 
helps people. On similar grounds, it would be useful to have a simple 
way of specifying textual replacement for text. But the problem is how 
to define the markup and how to define the conditions for using the 
textual replacement.

In some use cases, it would suffice to define as follows: an alt 
attribute on a <span> element or other phrase element indicates the text 
to be used in place of the element content, if the content cannot be 
presented as graphic characters; for example:
<span alt="diameter">&#x2300;</span>
or
<span alt="ø">&#x2300;</span>
(A browser would be expected to use the alt fallback if it cannot render 
the content as the diameter sign, probably due to lack of such character 
in available fonts. And maybe the idea could be extended to rendering 
content non-visually; in that case, only the former fallback would make 
sense.)

-- 
Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/
Received on Thursday, 25 August 2011 05:41:26 GMT

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