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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: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Tue, 13 May 2008 15:03:20 +0000
Cc: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, wai-liaison@w3.org
Message-Id: <E695F5F5-A4C4-433C-BF10-EC19684743BB@robburns.com>
To: Andrew Sidwell <w3c@andrewsidwell.co.uk>

Hi Andrew,


On May 13, 2008, at 2:51 PM, Andrew Sidwell wrote:

> Robert J Burns wrote:
>> On May 13, 2008, at 12:53 PM, Andrew Sidwell wrote:
>>> I would be happy if someone (or several someones) in favour of  
>>> making alt mandatory in all cases would answer very simply: How  
>>> does a blind photographer mark up a photo, which is known to be  
>>> critical content, but which she herself cannot describe?
>> According to the new draft section,  the alt attribute is not to be  
>> used
>> for description of photographs that are critical content. You're  
>> thinking of the current editor's draft that attempt to expand the  
>> alt attribute to cover many more accessibility functions. However,  
>> according to best practice recommendations descriptions — including  
>> descriptions of photographs — should be handled through other  
>> means. For a blind author they would likely not even think in terms  
>> of using an image of rich text or an iconic image or a chart to  
>> convey their meaning. [...]
>
> I don't believe I said they would—that was not what I was asking  
> about.

My response directly answers your question, but you're not reading the  
response carefully.

>
>
> <snip>
>> So to summarize critical content text alternative is not a  
>> description of an image. It's the necessarily brief text that would  
>> be required for a user to comprehend the document in the absence of  
>> the image.
>
> Whilst all of this was interesting to read, it was also irrelevant  
> to the question.  A page whose purpose is to display photographs  
> cannot be comprehended in any meaningful way in the absence of the  
> image in the case of the question I posed above (that is, where the  
> person creating the page to show the image may herself have only the  
> vaguest of notions of what the image is).

It directly responds to your question. None of what you're describing  
belongs in the alt attribute according to the newly drafted section.  
While adding descriptions of photographs can make a document more  
accessible and more usable in general, it does not belong in the alt  
attribute (according to the newly proposed language). Instead it  
belongs in longdesc referenced document fragment or in the image files  
metadata or an aria-described-by referenced document fragment (none of  
which would be required by the proposed img element language)

>>> Is it:
>>> <img src="photo">
>>> <img src="photo" alt="Photo">
>>> <img src="photo" alt="Exposure 2s, f/12">
>>> or something else?
>> Something else (a photo will rarely require anything but null alt):
>> <img src='photo1' alt='' longdesc='descriptions#photo1' >
>
> This merely moves the burden from alt text to a longdesc.  The  
> question still stands.

No, the question does not still stand. The longdesc attribute is not  
required. The alt attribute (according to the proposed section) is  
required. Once we've moved the burden to the longdesc attribute your  
very question evaporates.

> I would suggest that
>  <!DOCTYPE html>
>  <title>
>
>  <header>
>    <h1>Photo Gallery</h1>
>    <h2>Photo taken on 13th May 2008</h3>
>  </header>
>
>  <img src="photo">
>  <p><a href="prev">Previous photo</a>, <a href="next">Next photo</a>
>
> would not be a bad way of answering the question.  Maybe include a  
> paragraph straight after the image saying "1/2000s exposure at f/1.8".
>
> How would you propose to do it differently?
>
> (Consider also the case of a webcam mounted on a bag that took  
> photos and uploaded them via a 3G connection every five minutes.  A  
> similar situation applies there.)

Again, the question doesn't apply to the new img element language. I  
understand your question to be about the burden of requiring alt. Now  
you're discussing the markup and text content surrounding an image,  
none of which would be required. So we're on to a new question: and  
one completely irrelevant to action item 54 (and onto topics that  
simply confuse the current discussion).

> <snip irrelevant points>
>> The rest of your questions I'll leave for you to answer. As you can  
>> probably see now, they were based on a fundamental misunderstanding  
>> of the alt attribute.
>
> I can't help but feel you've sidestepped the question, though  
> unintentionally.

There is no question left. The description of the photo does not  
belong in the alt attribute value in any of the scnarios discussed in  
the newly proposed img element section. Now you're asking a new  
question. How does a blind author go the extra mile (beyond what is  
required by the proposed section) and describe a photograph and markup  
the description of that photograph that the blind user cannot see. I  
don't have an answer to that question (at least not the first part  
where a blind user has to describe the subject and appearance of a  
photograph they cannot see). However, that question is completely off- 
topic for this thread and perhaps even this WG.

Take care,
Rob
Received on Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:04:08 GMT

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