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Re: Change proposals for ISSUE-31 and ISSUE-80

From: Aryeh Gregor <Simetrical+w3c@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 2010 19:01:15 -0400
Message-ID: <AANLkTimIpmVzp4nBW7pUKcyeRH575vXzF8X-Dp7fuR9P@mail.gmail.com>
To: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
Cc: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, public-html@w3.org
On Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 5:15 AM, Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc> wrote:
> I have two additional goals with these removals. First of all I think
> @alt is the most (or even only) successful bolt-on accessibility
> attribute in the history of HTML. And like old proverb goes: if it
> ain't broken, don't fix it. I.e. given the success of @alt, I think we
> should be extremely careful about messing around with it. For this
> reason I'd like to make the number of changes to @alt as small as
> possible.

In what sense is alt so successful?  It's true that a lot of websites
specify alt text, but in my experience, it's rarely any good.  In
fact, most alt text I see is probably no better than just the
filename, which could be added automatically by the screen reader.  It
seems to me that authors who use alt text overwhelmingly do so just to
shut up validators, and I can't see how this helps anyone.  It's a
clear case of hidden metadata.

What data is there that directly demonstrates that alt text as
actually used on typical websites is helpful to blind people in
practice?  If you took a typical web page and removed all the alt
text, and maybe reconfigured the UA if its defaults for missing alt
text weren't great, would it be much less usable in a screen reader?
Received on Monday, 19 July 2010 23:01:49 UTC

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