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Re: Specific points of controversy relating to alt text (ISSUE-31, ISSUE-80)

From: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2010 07:51:36 -0500
Message-ID: <AANLkTi=-5+mHggkDi6F3SCGohL=Z9j7g52vfqUC0A1vC@mail.gmail.com>
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Cc: "Vlad Alexander\"" <vlad.alexander@xstandard.com>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Hello Everyone,

Maciej wrote:

> 1) Should specific alt requirements for authors be in the HTML5 spec or in a
> separate draft?

The "HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives"
document [1] is much more consistent with W3C accessibility
guidelines, developed over many years, than some advice currently in
the HTML 5 draft. In some cases Ian's document follows his own
personal accessibility rules based on his perspective of accessibility
and provides text alternative advice that directly conflicts with WAI.
Some things are very wrong, for instance his CAPTCHA [2] and Webcam
[3] advice. Steve has corrected the HTML Spec's mistakes [4] [5]  and
follows WAI in the "HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text
alternatives" doc.

> ** Query for the Working Group: can we compromise, and agree to have alt
> information *both* in a detailed standalone document *and* in the HTML5
> spec? None of the arguments presented seem to require the information to be
> exclusively in one form or the other.

For this to work, both documents would need to be in harmony and not
contradict each other. The question is: Can harmony that be achieved?
If the answer is yes, do we have the time? Doing it on a bug-by-bug
basis and escalating the WONTFIX bugs to issues may be time consuming
and could hold up last call.

> 2) Should we keep the email / private communications exemption to the alt
> requirement?

> ** Query for the Working Group: can we agree to remove this exemption, as
> largely superseded by the generator exemption?

Arguments to remove exemption:
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20090126#HTML5_Should_Not_Make_Rules_Beyond_Its_Scope

> 3) Should we keep, remove or modify the generator exemption to the alt
> requirement?

> ** Query for the Working Group: can we compromise on a per-element generator
> exemption mechanism, rather than outright removal or retention of the
> current per-document mechanism?

Arguments to remove exemption:
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20090126#HTML5_Should_Not_Facilitate_the_Creation_of_Inaccessible_Content

Arguments for a missing attribute:
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/IssueAltAttribute#Missing_Attribute

The solution that WAI CG said that they would not object to for edge
cases where page producers don't know what the image is, a "missing"
attribute.
http://www.w3.org/2009/06/Text-Alternatives-in-HTML5

A start of a change proposal for a missing attribute.
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/User:Lcarlson/ImgElement
I would need help to get that into shape if people are supportive. I
have asked previously to no avail.

> 5) Should we add aria-labeledby to the list of alt exemptions?

Arguments for aria-labeledby:
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20090126#aria-labelledby_Attribute

> ** Query for the Working Group: can we set aside the call to add
> aria-labeledby to the list of exemptions, particularly given a favorable
> outcome on (2) and (3)?

> 6) Should we add role=presentation to the list of alt exemptions?

Arguments for role="presentation":
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20090126#role.3D.22presentation.22_Attribute

> 7) Should we remove the title attribute exemption to the alt requirement?

Arguments to remove exemption:
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20090126#HTML5_Should_Not_Provide_Inaccessible_Text_Alternative_Features

Most of the discussion surrounding title seems to have taken place in 2007:
http://w3.markmail.org/search/?q=alt+title+list%3Aorg.w3.public-html

> 8) Should the semantic definition of the img element be changed, from saying
> it represents "an image", to saying that it represents "content that can be
> rendered visually (as an image) and textually"?
>
> - There hasn't been a lot of discussion on this point.
> - Input from the WG is welcome. Is this one of the biggest points of
> concern?
> - This particular point, taken alone, doesn't seem to have material impact
> on what UAs or conformance checkers will do.
>
> Perhaps we can drop this mostly-editorial change, if we can get closer to
> consensus on the more technical points above.

I brought forth Vlad Alexander's ideas in the
"Require alt. Correct Definition to Provide Equality. Replace Guidance
for Conformance Checkers." Proposal.
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20100504

Today I asked on his blog and have copied Vlad on this email to
consider contributing to the deliberations here to advance ideas that
he feels strongly about.
http://rebuildingtheweb.com/en/no-alt-text-for-photo-sharing-sites/#c20100807033213

Best Regards,
Laura

[1] http://dev.w3.org/html5/alt-techniques/
[2] http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=9216
[3] http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=9215
[4] http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=9169
[5] http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=9174

Related References:

Detailed Three Year History of the alt Issue
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20090126#Detailed_Three_Year_History_of_the_Issue

"WCAG WG is chartered to set Accessibility guidelines and HTML WG is
not; so HTML5 should be careful to supply features that support WCAG
and describe their use in ways that conform to WCAG." - Al Gilman on
behalf of PFWG.
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Feb/0082.html

The text alternative Change Proposals that I have drafted are:

1. Correct and Improve <img> Conformance Checker Guidance
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20090126
This one incorporates WAI CG's advice. And is a HTML Accessibility
Task Force Recommendation. The proposal:
* Disallows <img> to be valid with the generator mechanism, email
exception, and title attribute.
* Allows <img> to be valid with aria-labelledby or the role attribute
with a value of "presentation".
http://www.w3.org/2009/06/Text-Alternatives-in-HTML5

2. Require alt. Correct Definition to Provide Equality. Replace
Guidance for Conformance Checkers. The proposal:
* Replaces the definition of the img element with language that makes
alt and src attributes equivalent.
* Has guidance for conformance checkers guidance to flag ant image
that lacks an alt attribute as an error.
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20100504
This is the one where I have attempted to address Vlad Alexander concerns.
http://rebuildingtheweb.com/en/correct-img-element-definition/
He has no faith W3C HTML WG or WHATWG, so I submitted this proposal on
his behalf.
http://rebuildingtheweb.com/en/correct-img-element-definition/#c20100219084034

3. Require alt HTML4. Replace img Definition and Guidance for
Conformance Checkers.
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/index.php?title=ChangeProposals/ImgElement20100510
In this one I tried to address Jonas and T.V Raman's concerns.
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2010May/0186.html

4. Correct and Improve <img> Conformance Checker Guidance. I drafted
this proposal at the chairs request, because the accessibility
task force did not provide rationale for or role="presentation" in
their proposal (but now it does, thanks to Steve). This proposal:
*Disallows <img> to be valid with the generator mechanism, email
exception, and title attribute.
*Allows <img> to be valid with aria-labelledby.
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20100706
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-a11y/2010Jul/0022.html

5. Correct <img> Conformance Checker Guidance. I drafted this proposal
at the Chairs request because the accessibility task force did not
have rationale for aria-labelledby or role="presentation" in their
proposal (but now it does, thanks to Steve). This proposal disallows
<img> to be valid with the generator mechanism, email exception, and
title attribute.
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/ImgElement20100707
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-a11y/2010Jul/0022.html

-- 
Laura L. Carlson

On 8/6/10, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com> wrote:
> Hello HTML Working Group,
>
> Studying the Change Proposals for issues 31 and 80, it seems to me we can
> break down this issue into a number of sub-issues. It also seems to me that
> we may be able to achieve consensus on at least some of the specific
> sub-points, based on recent discussion. I'd like to especially commend Jonas
> and Laura for engaging in constructive discussion over the past week or two,
> as well as everyone else who contributed to the conversation.
>
> I believe we may be able to achieve consensus on some specific sub-issues,
> leaving us with a smaller subset that may need to be resolved via survey.
> For each sub-issue I have noted my observation. I'd like to hear from the
> Working Group on these points.
>
> 1) Should specific alt requirements for authors be in the HTML5 spec or in a
> separate draft?
>
> - Good arguments were presented for having a standalone document giving a
> rich, detailed treatment of text equivalents. An initial version has been
> published as a First Public Working Draft by the Working Group. It was
> argued that this could raise visibility.
> - Good arguments were also presented for having information about specific
> cases for alt in the HTML5 draft itself. It was argued that this would help
> with awareness for authors who may not have thought about accessibility up
> front.
>
> ** Query for the Working Group: can we compromise, and agree to have alt
> information *both* in a detailed standalone document *and* in the HTML5
> spec? None of the arguments presented seem to require the information to be
> exclusively in one form or the other.
>
>
> 2) Should we keep the email / private communications exemption to the alt
> requirement?
>
> - Some have said this waters down the alt requirement too much.
> - Some have argued that, in the situations where this seems more helpful,
> the generator exception would apply anyway, and the remaining cases are too
> narrow to be worth a special validator setting.
> - It has been pointed out that the intended recipients of a document are a
> subjective factor, one that cannot be determined from looking at the
> document alone, and one that may change over time.
> - It has been argued that a manual validator switch is a confusing way to
> serve a particular authoring use case.
>
> ** Query for the Working Group: can we agree to remove this exemption, as
> largely superseded by the generator exemption?
>
>
> 3) Should we keep, remove or modify the generator exemption to the alt
> requirement?
>
> - Some have argued that this exemption should be removed entirely, since it
> removes the alt requirement too much.
> - Others argue that, without this exemption, content generators will be
> forced to choose between producing nonconforming documents, or adding bogus
> alt text.
> - Still others suggest that a per-element mechanism may be more acceptable
> than a global setting to enable the generator exemption (e.g. @missing or
> @noalt attribute).
>
> I would like to add a thought of my own: there is a technical benefit to a
> per-element mechanism rather than a global one. Imagine the case of a
> template that includes some content images, but also has slots that may
> contain unknown, user-generated images. Perhaps it is a "stationery"
> template for email, or a blog theme. It would be very useful to validate the
> original template contents fully applying an alt requirement, but to apply
> the generator exemption only to the unknown user-provided content that is
> inserted as a template. This is better served with a per-element mechanism
> instead of a per-document mechanism.
>
> ** Query for the Working Group: can we compromise on a per-element generator
> exemption mechanism, rather than outright removal or retention of the
> current per-document mechanism?
>
>
> 4) Should we remove the figure/figcaption exemption to the alt requirement?
>
> - One Change Proposal effectively suggests this removal, by proposing that
> there be *no* exemptions.
> - However, there does not seem to be a great deal of enthusiasm for removing
> this exemption, and even the advocates of this removal have mixed feelings.
>
> ** Query for the Working Group: can we set aside the call to remove the
> figcaption exemption, particularly given a favorable outcome on (2) and (3)?
>
> 5) Should we add aria-labeledby to the list of alt exemptions?
>
> - Some in the accessibility community favor this exemption, to enable use of
> ARIA without alt.
> - Others argue that this would be a layering violation.
> - An argument was also made that this would interfere with user agents such
> as text-only browsers that cannot display images, but are not assistive
> technologies as such.
> - There is also a general desire to minimize the number of exceptions to the
> alt requirement, to avoid watering it down. This would seem to argue against
> adding more exemptions.
> - It seems that, for many who advocate cleaning up alt, this particular
> change is a relatively minor part of their concerns, and not one of the key
> issues with the current spec.
>
> ** Query for the Working Group: can we set aside the call to add
> aria-labeledby to the list of exemptions, particularly given a favorable
> outcome on (2) and (3)?
>
>
> 6) Should we add role=presentation to the list of alt exemptions?
>
> - The arguments pro and con are much as for point (5).
>
> ** Query for the Working Group: can we set aside the call to add
> role=presentation to the list of exemptions, particularly given a favorable
> outcome on (2) and (3)?
>
>
> 7) Should we remove the title attribute exemption to the alt requirement?
>
> - There hasn't been a lot of discussion on this point.
> - Input from the WG is welcome. Is this one of the biggest points of
> concern?
>
> This is a point that we may not be able to resolve by consensus, even if we
> resolve the others.
>
>
> 8) Should the semantic definition of the img element be changed, from saying
> it represents "an image", to saying that it represents "content that can be
> rendered visually (as an image) and textually"?
>
> - There hasn't been a lot of discussion on this point.
> - Input from the WG is welcome. Is this one of the biggest points of
> concern?
> - This particular point, taken alone, doesn't seem to have material impact
> on what UAs or conformance checkers will do.
>
> Perhaps we can drop this mostly-editorial change, if we can get closer to
> consensus on the more technical points above.
>
>
> If any of these sub-issues leads to extended discussion, please consider
> forking a separate thread with a new subject line.
>
>
> Regards,
> Maciej

-- 
Laura L. Carlson
Received on Saturday, 7 August 2010 12:52:15 GMT

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