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Re: Information access for all : img, object and @alt

From: Jim Jewett <jimjjewett@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 7 May 2008 00:54:55 -0400
Message-ID: <fb6fbf560805062154k1c7b53feg9215c73632826eef@mail.gmail.com>
To: Dr.O.Hoffmann@gmx.de, public-html@w3.org

Olivier GENDRIN wrote:
>> I'm wondering why we have so passionate
>> discussions about img and @alt, and none
>> about the alternatives of object, audio, video.

Dr. Olaf Hoffmann responded:

> If the author provides no alternative content
> within the element, it is simply decorative

In my experience, these are almost never decorative.  They may be
advertisements rather than desired content, but they are almost never
decorative.

Claiming that these elements are decorative (when they aren't) is the
same lie as emitting alt="" (empty string) on every image.  Reducing
the frequency of that lie is the motivation for allowing @alt to be
omitted.  (It is probably too late to reclaim empty or missing @alt as
meaningful, but that is the reasoning behind the proposal.)

I think the reasons for focusing on img @alt are

(1)  @alt is currently (HTML 4) required, and the HTML 5 draft is a
regression.

In theory, there are better ways to meet WCAG 1.1
(http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/CR-WCAG20-20080430/#text-equiv), but those
better ways are still theoretical until they get into the draft.

(2)  In practice, images are more important.

I generally browse with plugins off and the computer muted.  I almost
never see useful fallbacks, but (for important content) there is
usually at least an indication that a video is there, and often a
short title or caption.  I usually decide the video isn't important
enough to worry about.  The site as a whole is still usable without
the multimedia.

I used to browse with images off.  I gave up several years ago,
because too many sites were utterly unusable.

(3)  In theory, the alternative should be included directly in the
audio or video file itself.  In practice, that isn't common, but
motivated authors *could* do it.  Most image formats have no such
standard fallback, and are sufficiently frozen that they won't grow
one.

-jJ
Received on Wednesday, 7 May 2008 04:55:27 GMT

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