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Re: Request for review of alt and alt value for authoring or publishing tools

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2008 23:09:29 +0000 (UTC)
To: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org, John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>, Tomas Caspers <tomas@tomascaspers.de>, wai-xtech@w3.org, wai-liaison@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0804152304080.29828@hixie.dreamhostps.com>

On Tue, 15 Apr 2008, Steven Faulkner wrote:
> > 
> > There is *absolutely no practical difference* to the UA between 
> > omitting the alt="" attribute altogether, and having the alt="" 
> > attribute set to some magical reserved value. They are functionally 
> > identical, and user agents can get as much information from either.
>
> if <img alt=""> signals to an AT that an image can be safely ignored
> (which is current usage).
> then <img noalt> could signal that image should not be ignored by AT
> <img> signals that neither can the image safely be ignored or that it
> should not be ignored as it may contain something important.

We decide what things mean. That's our power, as the group writing the 
spec.

If we say, in the spec, that missing alt means that the image should not 
be ignored by AT, then that's what it means.


> No you are incorrect, as the assigned value of omitting the alt is only 
> meaningful if the spec is adhered to, and one thing we can be sure of is 
> that in most cases the spec won't be adhered to.

Anything in the document is only meaningful if the spec is adhered to.

If we define "noalt" to mean that the image should not be ignored by AT, 
and a user then takes an image that should have alt="" but instead he puts 
"noalt" on it, we're in exactly the same situation.

Web authors do all _kinds_ of random stuff. If we have to worry about 
non-conforming documents as well, then it doesn't matter what we do, since 
authors are going to ignore us anyway (by definition -- if they weren't 
ignoring us, they'd be people who care about conformance!).


> > And if _you_, an accessibility expert who cares about blind people, 
> > don't bother to include descriptions of photos you upload to Flickr, 
> > how can we possibly expect Random Joe User, who frankly _doesn't_ care 
> > about blind users, to write descriptions for Flickr to include?
> 
> pathetic personal attack... but can anything more be expected?

I do not mean this as an attack. I mean this as a very real question. John 
is arguing that we should make people include alternative text, but he 
himself isn't doing so. That indicates that there is a disconnect between 
his desires and his own actions, which hopefully, if it is pointed out to 
him, will help him realise why his desires and arguments are flawed.

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Tuesday, 15 April 2008 23:10:21 UTC

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