W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-au@w3.org > April to June 1999

Re: null alt revisited

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-hwg@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Thu, 08 Apr 1999 10:34:33 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: thatch@us.ibm.com
Cc: love26@gorge.net, "w3c-wai-au@w3.org" <w3c-wai-au@w3.org>
At 12:03 p.m. 04/08/99 -0500, thatch@us.ibm.com wrote:
>Re: "I'd almost rather see [IMAGE] displayed than see " ""
>It is easy to visually ignore [IMAGE]. It is impossible to ignore it when
>you are listening to the page.

That's nice, but I'm speaking for me, not for you.  (Remember,
just as the web is not "only" for sighted people, neither is
accessibility "only" for visually impaired people or those using
voicing browsers.)

You'd rather hear nothing than an indication there's an image?
Well, that's fine.  I'd rather hear a proper ALT tag, as you would.
However, in lieu of a proper ALT tag (which may or may not be ""
or " " when properly done), I would rather know there's some info
that I can't get it, rather than skipping it over altogether -- 
which, of course, is why Lynx puts [IMAGE] instead of nothingness.
(I view that as a good and proper behavior of Lynx.)

Making the default be ALT=" " helps nobody, and hurts some people
by hiding the fact that there's an image on the screen.  ALTs that
are null or blank should ONLY be put in by deliberate choice (or
"when known with certainty"), not as a placeholder any more than
any other placeholder text ("image" "foobar.jpg (1254 bytes)" etc)
should be used.

Kynn Bartlett <kynn@hwg.org>
President, Governing Board Member
HTML Writers Guild <URL:http://www.hwg.org>
Received on Thursday, 8 April 1999 13:38:58 UTC

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