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Re: HTML Action Item 54 - ...draft text for HTML 5 spec to require producers/authors to include @alt on img elements.

From: David Poehlman <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>
Date: Mon, 12 May 2008 13:35:53 -0400
Message-ID: <613194D9818240C4A46BC9849D8B8F94@HANDS>
To: <public-html@w3.org>, "W3C WAI-XTECH" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, <wai-liaison@w3.org>, "Dan Connolly" <connolly@w3.org>, "Chris Wilson" <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>, "Michael\(tm\) Smith" <mike@w3.org>, "Dave Singer" <singer@apple.com>

My take:

I see no harm in using alt="" for an image when there is no reasonable alt 
text known. as it is already used when alt="text of link" is redundant to: 
<a href=myfile>my file</a>.  Many of us recognize the different uses of 
alt="" already so perhaps it just requires enumeration?

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dave Singer" <singer@apple.com>
To: <public-html@w3.org>; "W3C WAI-XTECH" <wai-xtech@w3.org>; 
<wai-liaison@w3.org>; "Dan Connolly" <connolly@w3.org>; "Chris Wilson" 
<Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>; "Michael(tm) Smith" <mike@w3.org>
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2008 12:14 PM
Subject: Re: HTML Action Item 54 - ...draft text for HTML 5 spec to require 
producers/authors to include @alt on img elements.


This entire conversation seems to be be in repeating circles.
Personally, I would like to see a considered answer to the question
below, and I don't think I have.  Having, in essence, the question or
disagreement endlessly repeated is making the mailing list tedious to
follow.  If we've had a helpful answer, can someone repeat it?  If
we're on track for getting an answer, can we wait for it?  If we
don't think an answer is possible, then we need to re-frame the
question.

"In striving for the best support for accessibility, we would like
guidance on what to say in a specification on the use of the alt
attribute for an image when there is no reasonable alt text known.
It seems as if alt="" would state (probably erroneously) that the
image is not semantically significant, and alt="an image" -- or
something similar -- while true, is quite unhelpful.  Some of us are
uncomfortable with such a string, because it seems to mislead the
user agent into believing that there is useful alt text, when it may
be able to do better if it was aware that there is no alt text.  For
example, it can conclude quite easily by itself that it is "an image"
and in addition would be able to state its size, and would be at
liberty to do other analysis (e.g. stating that it had some
similarity to another image on the page, recognize that it contains
one or more faces, etc.).  It can also do this in the user's natural
language, if known.  Because of this, we have considered allowing the
omission of alt in this case (when no useful alt text is known at the
authoring point), but we are concerned about this too, as it may
'open the barn door' and such a permission to omit may be abused. In
essence, we have three cases (useful text known, images that are
semantically insignificant, potentially significant images with no
known alt text) but only two indicators -- non-empty and empty alt
text?  Do you have guidance on what to say in a specification on the
use of the alt attribute for an image when there is no reasonable alt
text known?"
-- 
David Singer
Apple/QuickTime
Received on Monday, 12 May 2008 17:36:38 UTC

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