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Re: unifying alternate content across embedded content element types

From: Robert Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2007 01:00:06 -0500
Message-Id: <47FCE1F6-6B4F-46C0-891A-2623138611B3@robburns.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
To: Sander Tekelenburg <st@isoc.nl>

Hi Sander,

On Jul 15, 2007, at 12:13 AM, Sander Tekelenburg wrote:
> As an author, you should look at the entire document, without the  
> images
> being loaded, and for each image consider what text would make  
> sense in its
> place; what text would make you not miss the image, because that  
> text conveys
> the same as the image.
>
> If, using that approach, your alt text doesn't look right to you,  
> it isn't
> right. If you can't come up with alt text that truly tells what you  
> intend to
> tell through the image, then alt="" is much better than alt="something
> useless".
>
> Personally I think this method is quite clear. Just as it is clear  
> that it
> will often not be easy at all for authors to come up with the right  
> alt text.
> I often find it quite hard.

It might be helpful if you too could provide some examples of what  
you're saying. For example, in Jon's Fluffy picture example, how  
would you populate the @alt attribute? I understand one needs context  
to be able to do this, but feel free to take liberties, make  
assumptions and fill in the gaps and then craft an example.  It would  
just be helpful to see how one might attach proper @alt  and  
@longdesc to an simple example like this.

For example, I had suggested simply @alt='Fluffy' might do the trick  
if this were a page directed at close friends and family. In that way  
the user could read the accompanying text, come across the picture  
and then understand what relation that missing picture had to the  
surrounding prose. At least in the context I'm imagining that would  
be much better than simply alt='' where the user would be left  
wondering what they're missing (or expecting that they may be missing  
something). I would expect that a user unable to consume the image  
would come across that description and think, "OK that's another one  
of those pictures of Fluffy that Rob's always pushing on us all".  
With alt="", I feel like I would think: "hey I wonder what that  
picture is that I can't see?"

As I said in an earlier post, I think its really important what the  
offer want to convey to her audience including understanding what  
accessibility needs the various groups of that audience may have  
(like color blindness or simply monochrome output, cognitive  
disability, vision impairment, hearing impairment, what languages  
they can read,, etc.).

Jon's example.
> <img src=cat.jpg alt="A photo of my cat, Fluffy, playing with a  
> ball of yarn">
> <p>A photo of my cat, Fluffy, playing with a ball of yarn</p>

Also to push this question, I've been trying to get across, why not  
just always put that equivalent content in a document fragment  
targeted by the @longdesc attribute and leave @alt off completely.  
After all, the @longdesc could be short or long? It can be markup  
rich or not. It can be on the same page or on another page. Through  
some CSS and DOM wizardry it can be made available in ways that  
current UAs do not make available for any other fallback (at least by  
default). I'm purposely trying to be a little provocative  here to  
try to break this logjam.  However, I'm being only a little  
provocative in asking what @alt adds that @longdesc cannot do (on  
<img> anyway).

Take care,
Rob
Received on Sunday, 15 July 2007 06:00:21 UTC

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