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Re: [html4all] New issue: IMG section of HTML5 draft contradicts WCAG 1 & WCAG 2 (draft)

From: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2008 13:42:04 +0100
Message-ID: <47FF5C9C.5090700@cam.ac.uk>
To: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
CC: wai-xtech@w3.org, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>> Saying that such products should be
>> programmed to output invalid HTML isn't a viable answer, either.
> 
> Why not? Almost *every* tool I know of that produces HTML produces 
> invalid HTML, so I am not sure how you determine that there is some 
> existential reason why this cannot happen.

Certainly it is true that many tools produce invalid HTML but I'm not sure quite 
how one could claim in the HTML spec that a tool ought to produce non-conforming 
markup. One could, I suppose allow such sites to conform to the HTML 
specification but not to WCAG, which is the current situation.

 From my perspective, it looks like the heart of this issue is not whether there 
are cases in which it is unreasonable to expect authors to provide alt text; 
several (to me) compelling such examples have already been given. Neither does 
the main issue seem to be whether tools should supply spurious alt text in cases 
where no sensible information is available; there seems to be pretty widespread 
agreement that spurious or unnecessarily repetitive values. Instead, the issue 
seems to be how complex a message we are willing to send out.

Whilst I think the current spec text is genuinely designed to improve the 
experience of users unable to access graphics, it is undeniably more subtle than 
the message "always use alt text". I guess it is a genuine concern that making 
the message more subtle will have a negative impact on accessibility even if the 
changes themselves are designed to have a positive impact. It's hard to call 
which way that would go but, if WCAG still has a straightforward message, it 
seems that we may be able to have the best of both worlds.

-- 
"Eternity's a terrible thought. I mean, where's it all going to end?"
  -- Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Received on Friday, 11 April 2008 12:42:42 GMT

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