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Re: [html4all] HTML5 Alternative Text, and Authoring Tools

From: Matthew Raymond <mattraymond@earthlink.net>
Date: Thu, 01 May 2008 23:26:19 -0400
Message-ID: <481A89DB.6050101@earthlink.net>
To: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
CC: HTML WG Public List <public-html@w3.org>

John Foliot wrote:
> 1.  By the principles, HTML5 wants to support accessibility

    I fail to see how providing |alt=""| for relevant image content
  improves accessibility.

> 2.  By their charters, WAI groups (here WCAG) are the go-to
> experts in matters of accessibility

    So, it is the official position of the WAI committee that allowing 
|alt| to be dropped when alternate content is unavailable is harmful to 
accessibility?

> 3.  WCAG requires @alt (WCAG1) or the function that in HTML4
> is provided by @alt (WCAG2)  [editorial note -- add links]

 From the WCAG1 intro:

| The guidelines are intended for all Web content developers (page
| authors and site designers) and for developers of authoring tools.

 From the WCAG2 intro:

| Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 defines how to make
| Web content more accessible to people with disabilities.

    It would seem to me that these guidelines are not intended as 
guidelines for spec developers. They're intended for content developers 
using EXISTING specifications.

> 4.  By the principles, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    But it is broken. Tell me if I'm wrong, but HTML 4.01, WCAG1 and 
WCAG2 give no guidance on what to assign to an |alt| attribute for an 
element where the proper alternate content is unknown. They merely state 
that |alt| is a required attribute and that |alt=""| should be used for 
images, et cetera, without semantic significance. At the very least, the 
lack of guidance in what to do in this situation is something that needs 
fixing.

> 5.  Conclusion:  barring the introduction of new, good
> reasons for a change, the failure of the HTML5 draft to make
> @alt on <img> an across-the-board requirement (even if sometimes
> it has the value of &quot;&quot;) is a bug.

    This is not true of the current HTML5 spec, which predates the 
current thread:

| [...] the alt attribute is only allowed to be omitted when no
| alternative text is available and none can be made available, e.g. on
| automated image gallery sites.

    The above text makes it clear that all images where the alternate 
content is known must have an |alt| element. For situations where the 
alternate content is unknown, |alt=""| may be, and in fact probably is, 
incorrect from a semantic perspective.
Received on Friday, 2 May 2008 03:23:30 UTC

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