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Re[2]: Two comments about Before-After Demo (BAD)

From: Marco Bertoni <m.bertoni@webprofession.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009 20:36:18 +0100
Message-ID: <1648080416.20090123203618@webprofession.com>
To: EOWG <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>

Hello William,

In my experience the hard job has always been to teach designers to avoid unnecessary or redundant alt text, precisely adopting the principle that we must deliver the same information to all users (and not less or more information to screen readers users).  

On the other hand my blind friends and colleagues always gave me feedbacks showing up that the more text Jaws reads before the main point of the content the more frustrating and annoying was the navigation experience. But I agree that "Web user #1 is NOT Web user #2" so maybe we were wrong, indeed my comments were interlocutory.

However... if you look at most usability researches you'll find that also sighted people point directly to the main content avoiding advertising or graphics (see for example: http://www.useit.com/eyetracking/). Indeed is the correct information architecture that guide users to find quickly what they're scanning for. Decoration, in most cases, is not a clue... is only decoration. We are not talking about CSS positioning, we are talking about decorative images.

Techniques for WCAG 2.0 says:

"When using the img element, specify a short text alternative with the alt attribute. Note. The value of this attribute is referred to as "alt text".

When an image contains words that are important to understanding the content, the alt text should include those words. This will allow the alt text to play the same function on the page as the image. Note that it does not necessarily describe the visual characteristics of the image itself but must convey the same meaning as the image." 

So alt text must convey the same "meaning" and the same function on the page as the image. But since decorative images have only a visual function, in my opinion they're meaningless in a non visual environment.

If you do not agree with me, as I imagine ;), explain me why in the BAD page (http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/2005/Demo/after/index) the man with the hat (coded with alt) is more meaningful for a blind user than the flower on the right (coded without alt, as CSS background)? 


Friday, January 23, 2009, 7:03:26 PM, you wrote:

> This commonly-/widely-held "belief" overlooks that what is "nothing more
> than noise for *THE* blind" [emphasis added] is not the case for many blind
> users who want to know what's there if only to be able to discuss its
> details with sighted colleagues. Because "Web user #1 is NOT Web user #2.

> The onus for its voicing being an annoyance should be on the settings in the
> Assistive Technology, not accounted for in the Web Content, which should be
> equally available for everyone. One guy's noise is another guy's means of
> making a living in Web design.

> Every piece of "decorative material" is in fact, at the very least, a
> guidepost that is traditionally given the "copout" treatment of the null
> alt, even for those for whom the content is worth the "noise" because they
> want to know how "decoration" serves to reveal structure AND the intent of
> the content.

> After all, who gets to decide which images are "important" - surely the
> designer has already decided on their relevance, else they would not have
> been included. No matter how "decorative" an element, it could very well be
> informative, in many cases importantly so. We, as standards makers, should
> avoid caviling to conventional ideas of "decoration as not information".

> Love.

> On Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 8:57 AM, Marco Bertoni
> <m.bertoni@webprofession.com>wrote:

>> Alt text should be used when the image is important to understanding the
>> content, in all other cases images are decorative. This is an important
>> issue because every non essential text read by the screen reader is nothing
>> more than noise for the blind.

>> IMHO, the three images that you can see on screenshot n. 1 are decorative.

Best regards,
Marco Bertoni
International Webmasters Association / The HTML Writers Guild
Received on Friday, 23 January 2009 19:37:02 UTC

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