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RE: Another summary of alt="" issues and why the spec says what it says

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2008 00:52:16 +0000 (UTC)
To: "Dailey, David P." <david.dailey@sru.edu>
Cc: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>, HTML4All <list@html4all.org>, Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>, "Michael(tm) Smith" <mike@w3.org>, wai-xtech@w3.org, Al Gilman <Alfred.S.Gilman@ieee.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0804170045460.19129@hixie.dreamhostps.com>

On Wed, 16 Apr 2008, Dailey, David P. wrote:
>
> In terms of options A through D, below, there is another option E which 
> is that sites that care about conformance make sure that any images they 
> use already have author-provided image provenience metadata that 
> accurately describes the image, as is being discussed in another thread 
> "[html4all] New issue: IMG section -- metadata "

But as pointed out on that thread and in others, sometimes there simply is 
no alternative text available. Examples I can think of that have been 
mentioned so far include:

 * Images uploaded by a blind user before that user has had a chance to 
   ask his friends to describe the images to him.

 * Images in a Web-based tool whose purpose it is to get authors to 
   provide replacement text for those images.

 * Images uploaded automatically by a completely automated system, e.g. a 
   Web cam, or Google's "street view" images.

 * Images uploaded "em masse" where the user does not have the resources 
   to describe each one in turn.

These are the cases we are talking about.

I gave an example a few days ago of a professional photographer uploading 
1000 images a week to his photo gallery site. If it takes him one minute 
per image to describe his photos, he would have to spend two days a week 
full-time just to describe his images. Given that photographers are paid 
by the photo, and not by the word, I am very skeptical that you'll ever 
get a professional photographer to do this. If a tool was to demand it of 
him, he would just use another tool instead.

We don't want to make sites have to decide between conformance and market 
share. If we make them make that choice, conformance will lose every time, 
and far more than alternative text is likely to be lost in the battle.

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Thursday, 17 April 2008 00:53:32 UTC

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