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Re: [A11y] requiring alt Re: fear of "invisible metadata"

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 19:06:03 -0700
Message-Id: <3AB614CF-FE19-4BB1-8493-B0452A6D25C7@apple.com>
Cc: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>, public-html@w3.org
To: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>


On Jun 18, 2007, at 6:44 PM, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:

> On Tue, 19 Jun 2007 03:08:53 +0200, Maciej Stachowiak  
> <mjs@apple.com> wrote:
>
>> ALT should not be required either. It leads to pointless alt="" on  
>> images that have no reasonable text equivalent, just to satisfy  
>> conformance checkers. And that is actively harmful, because AT  
>> can't tell the difference between a semantically null image and a  
>> semantically meaningful image with no text alternative.
>
> So if it were not required, you would have alt="" on things that  
> need no text, alt="useful information" on things that are useful  
> information, and nothing on poorly authored content which may or  
> may not need an alt attribute?

Such content is not necessarily poorly authored. To once again cite  
my favorite example, consider <http://flickr.com/photos/othermaciej>.  
The photo images on it are semantically meaningful (they are the  
whole point of the page), but alt text would not really improve  
accessibility of this page. Repeating the titles and captions on the  
photos would be pointless and would also not provide something that's  
actually an alternative for the image.

> The approach we took in ATAG 1 was to require noting that the  
> absence of alt is an error, but also require that no default be  
> generated, which is in line with this thinking...

Sadly, sometimes tools and web app authors feel compelled to make  
their output pass validators. So flickr for example puts alt="" on my  
photos for me.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Tuesday, 19 June 2007 02:06:14 GMT

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