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Re: Flickr and alt

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 12:01:49 +0300
Message-Id: <4316D8E0-6449-430E-AEEB-5DFA31DB57F2@robburns.com>
To: "Patrick H. Lauke" <redux@splintered.co.uk>, "public-html@w3.org Tracking WG" <public-html@w3.org>

HI Patrick,

On Aug 19, 2008, at 10:10 AM, Patrick H. Lauke wrote:

> John Foliot wrote:
>> Most if not all countries in the "Western" hemisphere have  
>> legislation which
>> protects human rights and the rights of individuals that may be
>> disadvantaged due to a disability.
> Thinking about the UK DDA for a minute, there is however a  
> "reasonable adjustment" context, and it's based on case law. Leaving  
> the jurisdictions aside, if a blind/VI user wanted to sue Flickr,  
> would a jury/judge decide that yes, the fact that the photo-sharing  
> site didn't mandate its users to also provide adequate alternative  
> text to describe their photos is a clear case of discrimination? In  
> the case of Flickr (whose whole "raison d'etre" centres around  
> photos), this may be a stretch. If we were talking about a more  
> general-purpose CMS/authoring site, that'd be another matter.

I feel this discussion is getting lost in strawmen. It may be that  
some are advocating Flickr require alt for every photograph. However,  
there are much more subtle and measured issues at stake here. For  
example, Flickr does not even do much to assist users in entering  
effective alt text or textual equivalents in general. So that issue  
has nothing to do with whether the criminal or civil law will lower  
the beam on Flickr. it also has nothing to do with the individual  
personal proclivities of one Flickr user or another. After all some  
Flickr users may be sharing photographs with friends and family who  
are visually impaired  or legally blind.

This staking out of extremes is also missing the point as far as HTML5  
is concerned. HTML 5 as it is currently drafted does not even provide  
sufficient mechanisms to meet WCAG requirement. For example in[1], the alt text "must contain text that conveys the purpose  
of the link." yet WCAG also recommends[2][3] including further  
descriptive information when the alt text is insufficient as a  
complete text equivalent.

It is especially the shortcomings of HTML5 that should concern this  
WG. We shouldn't be discussing natural rights or the role of the state  
in society. We should be focussed on ensuring HTML5 has the mechanisms  
users and authors need (including disabled users). Far too often the  
editor and other WG members are focussed on how they would use the  
language for their own particular authoring needs and dismissing the  
other use cases.

Take care,

[1]: <http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/#a-link>
[2]: "For complex content (e.g., a chart) where the "alt" text does  
not provide a complete text equivalent, provide an additional  
description using, for example, "longdesc" with IMG or FRAME, a link  
inside an OBJECT element, or a description link."
[3]: <http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/#gl-provide-equivalents>
Received on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 09:02:53 UTC

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