W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > April 2009

Re: Need differentiator between "no alt text provided" and "no alt text necessary"

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 21:40:17 +0000 (UTC)
To: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0904252125480.10370@hixie.dreamhostps.com>
On Thu, 12 Feb 2009, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
> Section "An image in an e-mail or document intended for a specific
> person who is known to be able to view images" seems to me mildly harmful.
> Specifically, it appears to legitimate claims of the kind "all our customers
> can see, so we don't need to worry", something that causes a huge umber of
> problems in ensuring accessibility where it is in fact necessary.
> An example given a decade ago was about a driving school [...]

I've changed that section to make it clear it is only referring to private 
documents and not anything on the Web.

> Guidance for markup generators also seems problematic. Its 
> suggestion that tools might simply assume that things are decorative and 
> use alt="" flies in the face of both ATAG 1 [2] and the current draft of 
> ATAG 2 [3], both documents designed specifically to address this issue 
> for the relevant audience. The section's treatment of what to do when an 
> image represents a link is, IMHO, an over-simplification of the guidance 
> in ATAG that is also in conflict for some cases with what that 
> specification actually says.
> If the former section were removed, and the latter section rewritten to 
> follow what ATAG says (and even better, refer to it directly), then I 
> believe the current draft and those modifications would resolve 
> ISSUE-30. (Whereas the current draft and some other set of odifications 
> may or may not, IMHO).

Could you be more specific about what the contradictions are?

> A more minor quibble that I think is editorial is with "don't do this" 
> example of bad practice given in Section A phrase or paragraph 
> with an alternative graphical representation: charts, diagrams, graphs, 
> maps, illustrations" - rather than using the current text, I would 
> suggest something like "Photo of white house with boarded door" - and 
> perhaps a note that such text *would* be reasonable as a title *in 
> addition* to the suggested alt.

I've added your text as another example.

> Likewise I have editorial quibbles with the allegedly bad example in Section
> "A key part of the content" where it suggests that "The first of ten
> cards in the Rorshach test" is bad alt text. Assuming some resolution to
> ISSUE-30 allows for a reference to a further description that is not included
> in the main flow of text, and a page whose assumed audience is people who know
> what the Rorshach test is, or describes it, the specifics of the picture is
> not necessarily relevant and the example *may* be perfectly reasonable. As
> demonstrated by the fact that I can have a meaningful discussion about it by
> email, even though I have no idea what it actually looks like because I didn't
> properly read the description included in the proposed good example.

The spec has apparently changed since your comment (it no longer matches 
your description); the "bad" example now just points out that repetition 
is bad.

> There are some other examples given in this section of the draft, such 
> as descriptions of complex images, where the ability to refer to a 
> standalone resource as a description of a complex image would facilitate 
> re-use of the image across different pages for users and authors, and 
> would facilitate recognition of the image for both authoring tools and 
> assistive technologies.

Indeed. For optimal usability by all users, not just those who do not have 
access to images, such descriptions can be provided using the <a> element.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Saturday, 25 April 2009 21:40:53 UTC

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