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

From: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 15 May 2008 18:24:58 +0100
Message-ID: <482C71EA.2000202@cam.ac.uk>
To: Gez Lemon <gez.lemon@gmail.com>
CC: Geoffrey Sneddon <foolistbar@googlemail.com>, Ret'd Philip TAYLOR <P.Taylor@rhul.ac.uk>, Daniel Glazman <daniel.glazman@disruptive-innovations.com>, Dave Singer <singer@apple.com>, HTML Working Group <public-html@w3.org>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>

Gez Lemon wrote:
> On 15/05/2008, Geoffrey Sneddon <foolistbar@googlemail.com> wrote:
>>  There's a third option, which is the status quo: output an empty alt
>> attribute. They'll keep doing that. It will keep the tool's output passing
>> machine checkable conformance criteria (and people will leave it if it
>> doesn't), but it still doesn't help accessibility.
> 
> Which authoring tools currently do this?

Can I request that if we are to discuss the behavior of authoring tools with 
regard to @alt, we consider not just what output they produce but also how their 
UI choices around @alt affect the *quality* of the output. For example I 
analyzed the behavior of KompoZer and discovered the following:

a) It sometimes inserts very very poor alt text (the image path) automatically

b) It tries to enforce the entry of alt text in a manner that is frustrating to 
the user and therefore is likely to lead to the user adding empty alt (the 
easiest option) or adding ill thought through alt text so they are allowed to 
complete their goal of inserting an image.

c) It does not appear to provide an easy way to view the alt text in the correct 
context (i.e. with images disabled) so that users can assess whether their 
content is actually accessible in that situation.

KompoZer appears to be designed with the goal of producing syntactically valid 
HTML 4 documents. It is far from clear that the design choices made to fulfil 
the mandatory-alt part of these syntax requirements actually lead to more 
accessible output.

[1] http://www.w3.org/2002/02/mid/481DB90D.5010605@cam.ac.uk;list=public-html

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Received on Thursday, 15 May 2008 17:25:41 UTC

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