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Re: unifying alternate content across embedded content element types

From: Sander Tekelenburg <st@isoc.nl>
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 17:48:00 +0200
Message-Id: <p0624064fc2c28e6cc9d6@[]>
To: <public-html@w3.org>

At 00:21 -0500 UTC, on 2007-07-17, Robert Burns wrote:

> On Jul 16, 2007, at 10:52 PM, Sander Tekelenburg wrote:
>> If there indeed is already a textual equivalent in the surrounding
>> prose -if
>> that text conveys the author's message- then the image is purely
>> decorative
>> and alt="" woud be appropriate.
> [...] I would never
> consider an image that rightly belongs in the semantic document as
> purely decorative. It may be true that there is sufficient textual
> context provided by the surrounding prose. However, that does not
> make it purely decorative.

Yes, perhaps me calling them "purely decorative" in that context wasn't
correct; they're more like an equivalent of the surrounding prose. Either
way, alt="" seems appropriate to me.

What I *can* imagine is that one would use alt="", and provide a long and
detailed description of the image through longdesc, in a case like this.

> As a user confronting a page where I
> cannot consume the images (for whatever reason), I would want to know
> what I'm missing.

Have you ever browsed the Web without images, plug-ins, javascript, CSS? You
go nuts dealing with all the indications of what you're missing, especially
because the indication refers only to a format. They don't tell you whether
you're actually missing *information*. The only way to judge that is to,
somehow, consume that information.

So assuming Web pages that have been authored 'properly', I wouldn't want to
be bothered/distracted by such indicators.

The problem in reality is that most Web sites are not authored properly. When
you need to use such a site, you'll need the indicators. But it's still quite
likely that they'll do you very little good.

More practical might be if UAs allow users to toggle indicators on/off. I
know some screen reader users already keep certain useful things switched off
always, because so many authors abuse them. If you can easily toggle them on,
that could be useful. Especially if the  UA would indicate that the current
document is conforming (or not). It would be interesting to try a UA that
(optionaly) presents all alt text, longdescs, @title @summary, etc. on
conforming documents, and not on non-conforming documents -- the  assumption
being that in a conforming document it is likely that those attributes aren't
being abused.


> [...] Earlier had suggested adding some reserved keywords to
> @alt to deal wit this issue.

I must have missed that. Sorry.


> For reserved keywords, I think something like alt='_prose' and
> alt='_decorative' would help

Yes, I suppose that might be useful in theory. But I have the feeling it too
would probably be abused. And it wouldn't be backwards compatible. (Pre-HTML5
UAs would consider it a plain string.  And we know that upgrading assistive
technology is too expensive for many users.)

Sander Tekelenburg
The Web Repair Initiative: <http://webrepair.org/>
Received on Tuesday, 17 July 2007 15:58:06 UTC

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