W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > April 2008

Re: Use-case for where alt text would be truly unavailable

From: T.V Raman <raman@google.com>
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 10:44:55 -0700
Message-ID: <18438.15127.786673.193176@retriever.corp.google.com>
To: chaals@opera.com
Cc: takkaria@gmail.com, public-html@w3.org

As a second "real world example" ((in fond memory of the
Technical Plenary where everyone's world was "more real" than
anyone else's)

0) I take pictures with my digital camera -- often others take
   pictures with my camera.

1) When I get home, I have no idea what each picture has in it --

2) I create a Picasa Web album named after the event the pictures
   were taken at.

3) I upload the pictures from emacs using the Picasa API (who
   said you need a browser to use the Web;-))

4) I enable commenting, and my friends go in and annotate the

In the days before picasa I used to put the pictures up on my Web
server under a specific directory, have friends describe the
picture, and then update the HTML document with the descriptions
so that I'd know in future what the pictures showed --- the
 ability to have friends describe the pictures basically makes
 maintaining the descriptions easier.

Note that the comments are not "alt attrs" on the images, for the
particular use case of photo albums, an attribute is really not
good enough.

Charles McCathieNevile writes:
 > On Wed, 16 Apr 2008 04:05:23 +0200, Andrew Sidwell <takkaria@gmail.com>  
 > wrote:
 > > It occurred to me earlier there there there might be a non-sighted  
 > > person who enjoys taking photos.  Maybe so other people can look at  
 > > them.  Maybe so that edge-detection can be run on the images so they can  
 > > be etched and thus felt rather than just seen.
 > http://my.opera.com/oedipus/blog/my-fifteen-minutes-of-fame and  
 > http://my.opera.com/oedipus/blog/an-experiment-in-alt are entries about  
 > http://my.opera.com/oedipus/albums/ - exactly the situation you are  
 > imagining.
 > Although single data points are open to misinterpretation, it might be  
 > worth looking at the real thing if the alternative is a thought experiment.
 > > Imagine these photographs were uploaded to the Web.  The artist is in no  
 > > position to provide alt text.  Neither is whatever CMS the artist is  
 > > using.  However, the content is clearly critical content.
 > There are several possibilities here. In some cases, an alt that provided  
 > a key such as the filename so the artist knew which is which would  
 > actually be helpful - for instance in a apge full of images. On the single  
 > image pages, however, that would not be terribly helpful.
 > However, I agree with the fundamental point that making up some kind of  
 > appropriate value for an alt attribute may not be possible even with  
 > goodwill. I think that is a secondary case to the fact that we know a  
 > large number of images will lack an alt attribute for worse reasons, like  
 > people havng second-rate tools, or being lazy, or cutting corners in a  
 > rush, or whatever.
 > > Requiring alt in this case seems like lunacy.
 > This is ISSUE-31 and the question hinges on what you mean by "requiring".  
 > Making a validator say "this page is invalid" is not the same as forcing  
 > someone to put the attribute in. The real question is what will happen on  
 > the web, if the validator says that - what will people who make CMS and  
 > other authoring tools of various kinds actually do? And that is the crux  
 > of this issue.
 > The critical question is whether making a lack of alt attribute invalid  
 > will lead to people making systems insert some default in order to pretend  
 > that they are outputting valid code (thus defeating the purpose of the  
 > attribute and its current interpretation in deployed systems), or whether  
 > people are often not concerned about validity, so the major effect will be  
 > to educate those who are on the problem that they have created and thus  
 > help them improve the Web.
 > In any event, it seems that the HTML 5 spec should clarify that not having  
 > an alt attribute is *some* kind of error. It should also clarify, perhaps  
 > by reference to the W3C recommendation ATAG 1.0, checkpoint 3.4 [1], that  
 > is would be a *worse* error to put in a random default attribute. With  
 > respect to my good mate John Foliot who disagrees with me, having "there  
 > is no alt attribute" be an indicator that there is a problem is superior  
 > to having a defined default value, if only because it already works with  
 > today's deployed tools, guidance, and so forth.
 > [1] http://www.w3.org/TR/ATAG10/atag10.html#check-no-default-alt
 > cheers
 > Chaals
 > (the following are several thoughts that are related, but stretch the  
 > topic)
 > I believe that there are other issues based around specific examples given  
 > in the last draft of the spec I read that I think are wrong in terms of  
 > what they say about when and how to use alt, but that is not the current  
 > issue - and overall there has been a big improvement in what the spec says  
 > on this topic.
 > I am going to reassign the product of this issue to the specification  
 > draft, rather than to no product at all. The question of what is valid is  
 > pretty clearly one for the spec itself.
 > The lack of longdesc in the current HTML 5 draft restricts the options a  
 > bit, since it forces all description to be on the one page. This is not  
 > always ideal, but if thae situation continues and people take it seriously  
 > it will lead to hidden text, including using tricks like display:none and  
 > hoping or believing or wishing, incorrectly, that screen readers will  
 > somehow still see the text. (That's ISSUE-30)
 > -- 
 > Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
 >      je parle franšais -- hablo espa˝ol -- jeg lŠrer norsk
 > http://my.opera.com/chaals   Try Opera 9.5: http://snapshot.opera.com

Best Regards,

Title:  Research Scientist      
Email:  raman@google.com
WWW:    http://emacspeak.sf.net/raman/
Google: tv+raman 
GTalk:  raman@google.com, tv.raman.tv@gmail.com
PGP:    http://emacspeak.sf.net/raman/raman-almaden.asc
Received on Wednesday, 16 April 2008 17:46:24 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Thursday, 29 October 2015 10:15:32 UTC