W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org > January 2000

Re: null alt-text, spacers, etc. etc.

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Tue, 04 Jan 2000 21:59:11 -0500
Message-ID: <3872B37B.56A9B89A@clark.net>
To: Wendy A Chisholm <wendy@w3.org>
CC: w3c-wai-er-ig@w3.org
Thanks Wendy.

I am sorry to say that your revision of Technique 1.1.A got me into a lather.
I really do appreciate that you are doing this work.

> * Valid:
>     + IMG is the content of a link and the "alt" is null
This describes the current behavior of Bobby and it is perfectly INCORRECT.
Please, take a look at URL:
Which is "Bobby Approved!" despite having totally inaccessible links.  Only
the last of the several overly verbose "P1 - Manual check" warning messages
makes an oblique reference to the problem (all the previous items in that list
are irrelevant).

Alt must NOT be null/empty (pick a term and use it consistently) when IMG is
the content of a link unless the link is repeated elsewhere on the page.

Some of your examples for alt content for bullets and lines are counter
indicated.  There is no other way to say this but that <Q>alt="bullet"</Q> and
<Q>alt="horizontal rule"</Q> are just WRONG.  Perhaps these should even be
treated as suspicious?  ALTernative text should capture the intent/function
and not be solely pseudo-descriptive.  Using a value of "---" for ALT is
infinitely better than using "bar".  (Yes, the period belongs inside the
quotation mark, but don't you really prefer it when technical documentation is
not ambiguous?)

I hate to bring this up, but since you make allowances for "one or more
spaces", do you have to do the same with &nbsp; ?

I still think that the merits of a simple rule (<Q>alt="" is not allowed</Q>
-- we are discussing an accessibility perspective remember) outweighs the need
to use the empty string for content-free (decorative) and spacer GIFs.  Using
<Q>alt=" "</Q> would be okay for these -- and does NOT cause the "hidden link"
problem  on text-only UA (Lynx).  Your "treat as suspicious" examples are
otherwise good.  I don't think you can specify what is "valid" (perhaps you
should use "allowed" -- since we are not testing for "validity" per se)
because there is not way to automate a test for "good and appropriate" alt
content.  One can merely specify that which definitely or possibly poor or

Bruce Bailey

Wendy A Chisholm wrote:

> hi all,
> i've posted my revision of technique 1.1.A at
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/IG/ert/tech1-1.html
> I started editing the rest of the techniques for checkpoint 1.1 but then
> decided to wait for reactions on this draft.
> note that i got rid of the "under discussion" section, and modified the
> structure a bit.  I like that the same structure is used for each technique
> throughout the document, however it seems to be applied
> inconsistently.  applying a consistent structure would be one of the first
> things i think we ought to do in terms of general "clean up."
> --wendy
Received on Tuesday, 4 January 2000 22:02:44 UTC

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