W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > February 2012

Re: Request to Reconsider Alt Guidance Location

From: Leif Halvard Silli <xn--mlform-iua@xn--mlform-iua.no>
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 16:43:32 +0100
To: Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net>
Cc: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, Michael Smith <mike@w3.org>, HTML Accessibility Task Force <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, public-html@w3.org, Judy Brewer <jbrewer@w3.org>, Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Message-ID: <20120224164332354804.93df042c@xn--mlform-iua.no>
Janina Sajka, Thu, 23 Feb 2012 23:07:40 -0500:
> Leif Halvard Silli writes:

> But, if it's not specific to HTml 5, how can you justify trying to keep
> it HTML 5 space?

I can justify it by pointing out that, though the subject of 
alternative text is general, Steve and Ian's texts on @alt speak about 
alternative text in HTML5, and not everywhere else.

> Do you expect people working with PDF, with SVG, with
> ODF, with whatever other markup where this guidance is appropriate to
> somehow know they need to find their way into HTML documents to get this
> guidance?

It is possible to create guidance that is specific to those other 
languages you mention as well. Or even a some document that applies to 

The ARIA spec is quite host language agnostic, but still uses HTML as 
an example all the time. But even so, the process of getting it into 
HTML5 took some time. If we had let ARIA live its own life and HTMl5 
its own life, then I suspect that authors would have ended up not using 
ARIA inside HTML as much as their presence in HTML5 will lead them to 

Likewise, it does not sound like a win, for HTML5, if guidance about 
how to make HTMl5 accessible is taken out of the HTML5 space and 

> How does that work when the well-known location of this work
> has been WAI-WCAG for over 15 years? And, it seems the people willing to
> continue working on the guidance are actually WCAG people, not HTML
> people?

It is well known that HTML speaks about how to use @alt. Are there 
other formats which, on syntax level, makes it required to include 
alternative text? Yes, the HTML5 validator do make it required, as 
specced by HTML5 - it is not always permitted to drop it when the 
author can't think anything to put there. Thus it is not true, when the 
change proposal says that, quote: 'the HTML 5 draft long ago made the 
alt attribute an optional feature of the img element'.

> May I also point out that the author and editor of the Techniques
> document himself requests this move? Does that count for nothing?

To those that voted for note track, the probably yes. Meanwhile Steve's 
request was conditional: 

>> In a way, what you say, is that Ian and Steve's two spec's are so good 
> No, I'm sorry. They disagree. Ian's must go.

They agree about much. But even Steve's draft is colored by the HTML5 

In Steve's draft, Steve has 4 notes about 'willful violations' of 
HTML5. [And a fifth about willful violation of HTML the  living 

* 3 of these violations were using @alt not for alternative text but to 
form an implicit relationship between an IMG and a caption - I don't 
there is even a change proposal for this ... ? 
* For 2 of these 3 implicit relationship violations, the justification 
for the violation is that it is 'recommended as a bridging technique 
until the figure and figcaption element semantics are implemented in 
browsers and assistive technology'. Since it is only a temporary advice 
the violation does not seem very serious.
* The fourth violation is about @title as fallback for @alt, for which 
there is a decision process already. 

I know there are other disagreement - at least one issue about how to 
mark up a captcha accessible, but it seems that Steve does not see the 
disagreement as serious enough to describe it as a willful violation - 
at least not yet.

>> with regard to @alt, that what their content should be lifted out of 
>> HTML5 and be made applicable for — I guess — images in general. So on 
>> one side the CP focuses on problems within the HTML working group, on 
>> the other side it says that is has produced good and useful texts on 
>> @alt.
> Yes, Steve, with the help of other from the accessibility group has
> produced very valuable documentation that needs to be widely shared and
> properly maintaned. This is not a minor issue for a11y.
> As the CP explains, it was produced in this space because Ian and others
> here were getting so much about alternative text wrong. But, that's not
> a reason to hang on to it like some kind of trophy.

It is fully possible to fork it, I think - no need to ask for 
permission for that, I think. And I by no means see it as trophy.

>> At any rate: The document 'HTML5 techniques for providing useful text 
>> alternatives' remains a HTML5 specific document. Why else should the 
>> HTML working group be co-responsible for it?
> No, it's not HTML specific. Perhaps its examples are HTML specific at
> this time, because this was its initial audience. But, the examples, and
> its title, can and must be globalized.

If one drops 'HTML5' from the title of the document, then it sounds as 
if applies to any kind of mark-up yes. But there is nothing about PDF, 
SVG or ODF in that document, as far as I can tell. [HTML is often 
converted to those formats and vice versa, so HTML5 is likely to impact 
those formats anyhow.]
Leif Halvard Silli
Received on Friday, 24 February 2012 15:44:08 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Thursday, 29 October 2015 10:16:20 UTC