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Re: Investigating the proposed alt attribute recommendations in HTML 5

From: Sander Tekelenburg <st@isoc.nl>
Date: Sat, 1 Sep 2007 18:20:32 +0200
Message-Id: <p06240660c2ff3d0b19e6@[]>
To: public-html@w3.org

At 04:09 +0200 UTC, on 2007-09-01, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:

> 2007-08-31 21:23:11 +0200 "Jon Barnett" <jonbarnett@gmail.com>:


> I spoke up against the argument that poor alt is worse than anything else.
>> or a "descriptive" @alt
> I especially feel the 'descriptive' argument thin. Simply because an
>«alternative text is a replacement», it must often be descriptive.

Could you provide an example? Because I disagree, but in general I tend to
agree with you -- so I might be misunderstanding what you mean.


>>  I suggested omitting @alt and using @title instead
>> because it gives accessible text without changing the semantics of
>> @alt (from "alternative text" to "descriptive text")
> Alternative text is equivalent content. You can even write the @ALT text
>first and find the image thenafter.

Indeed. (In fact, I suspect that how it works in most cases. Even though most
authors may not be aware, nor take that step explitly.)

> [...] One should not simply look at the image and try to describe it,
>without fitting the description/the alt text into the flow of the rest of
>the text. But when we have a photo album, then we should indeed try to make
>the descripions a bit independent - as there is no story to tell per se.

Ah, maybe I'm beginning to understand what you mean with "description".
Actually, my feeling is that for photo albums, where 'the image is the
content', it may often well be appropriate to not provide @alt, and provide a
detailed description through @longdesc.

Note though that I think <img>, @alt, and @longdesc should be flushed, in
favour of <object id=> (or <picture>) with <alt for=idref>. That would make
this entire point moot.


> How would you, if you designed an author tool, present to authors the
>choice between noALT and ALT=""?

Possibly assume noalt by default, and allow the author to either define the
image as meaningless/decorative, or to provide a textual equivalent. Bug the
author at least *once* before publication, listing all instances of noalt
(explaining why), and always allow the author to generate such a report later.

> (In my view, this would reqiure that noALT was linked to TITLE and not to
>ALT: [...])

I see no raletion with @title. In fact, authoring tools should not suggest
such a relation by, as you suggest, requesting authors to enter @alt and
@title right after each other. @alt is important enough to bug the user
about. @title is just an option that the tool needs to make available to the
user, no more. No reason to actively bug the user for an @title value.

Sander Tekelenburg
The Web Repair Initiative: <http://webrepair.org/>
Received on Saturday, 1 September 2007 16:28:33 UTC

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