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

Re: One more thought about requiring the alt to add to the pile

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Sun, 20 Apr 2008 11:23:51 +0300
Cc: "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>, "W3C WAI-XTECH" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, wai-liaison@w3.org
Message-Id: <126D2B7C-9B08-42DE-8E93-1D57E7FAD4D3@iki.fi>
To: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>

On Apr 18, 2008, at 11:07, Steven Faulkner wrote:

>> No. Now you are being so dogmatic about the alt attribute being there
>> that you are willing to suggest modal UI to work around it. That's
>> bad.
>>
> There is dogma on both sides of the debate, you  appear more dogmatic
> about the idea of alt as optional, than I am to it being required, I
> have publically stated that I am as yet unconvinced of the
> desirability of a required alt. There is obviuosly no doubt in your
> mind.

I can be persuaded with empirical data.

There has now been a decade-long experiment with making alt a syntax  
requirement. I think this experiment shows that doing so has the  
downside of inducing bogus alt. When validation has downsides, as a  
validator developer, I want to work to remove the downsides.

It may be that there's a greater upside and that a situation that  
polarizes results but has a greater upside is better even if it also  
moves the downside further from neutrality. However, absent data about  
this, I think it is reasonable to default to removing the downside.

Also, I think the Image Review feature I have implemented in  
Validator.nu works better than merely flagging missing alt as a  
validation error would for validator users who want to maximize an  
accessibility measure. It remains to be seen how it affects validator  
users who don't care about an accessibility measure and are seeking to  
maximize a syntactic correctness measure.

In general, if you want people to maximize function f(), it is safer  
to tell them to do so than to tell them to maximize a more appealing  
function g() and then try to build an artificial correlation between  
the two. Because then people are really maximizing g() and if your  
artificial correlation setup isn't working, well, oops. So if your  
agenda is accessibility, the advocacy should be "accessibility,  
accessibility"--not "validity, validity" with an added attempt to tie  
them together.

> There already are  "modal UI's" for most aspects of screen readers
> content presentation, i think it is the nature of  presenting visual
> UI's non visually or non linear content linearly.

A modal non-visual UI may be easier to invent, but in a non-visual UI  
it is also harder to tell what mode you are trapped in, so I don't  
think it is necessarily OK to introduce more modality even if there  
already is some. It appears that VoiceOver tries to avoid modality  
(apart from the VO key lock) just like visual Apple user interfaces.

-- 
Henri Sivonen
hsivonen@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
Received on Sunday, 20 April 2008 08:24:40 UTC

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