W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org > June 1999

Re: Guideline 1 in The evaluation techniques document

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 07:27:04 -0400
Message-Id: <199906241127.HAA10392@smtp-gw2.vma.verio.net>
To: w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org
>From: Nir Dagan <nir@nirdagan.com>

>I realy do not understand the idea behind:
>
>Not allowed - NULL ALT value (ALT="")
>Allowed - ALT value of 1 or more spaces (ALT=" ")
>
>Both from a semantic/logical point of view and HTML specification 
>these are quite the same thing.

The idea is that ALT=" " is appropriate for spacer images, while ALT="" is
appropriate for "content free" images.

Your point is well taken that from a semantic/logical point of view they are
equivalent.  I think this is the reason for any debate.

Another reason for the distinction is the (perhaps incorrect) behavior of
the most popular text-only browser.  Lynx treats them differently.  Missing
ALT Lynx will treat as [LINK] or [IMAGE].  ALT="" will hide images and links
from Lynx.  ALT=" " will be rendered as Lynx as [ ].

>My major reservation with this guideline is that there may be out there 
>many people who took the effort to write accessible pages with alt=""
>where appropriate, and now we tell them to revise their pages, without
>any reason whatsoever.

ALT="" is really only an issue for links.  There is agreement that ALT="" is
often appropriate (and even prefered to some other choices).  The current
debate is the behavior of authoring agents.  The authoring agents should NOT
start with ALT="" since this would encourge bad content.  The warnings that
an authoring agent generates could be more strict than a HTML/WCAG
validator.
Received on Thursday, 24 June 1999 07:27:39 GMT

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