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ALT text

From: Liam Quinn <liam@htmlhelp.com>
Date: Thu, 05 Feb 1998 00:35:35 -0500
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To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
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1.  From <http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/WD-WAI-PAGEAUTH-0203#Images and Image 

"Each image should have alternative text that describes the function of 
the graphic."

I would argue that each image should have alternative text that *provides* 
the function of the graphic.  The difference here is subtle, but I think 
it's an important distinction.  Describing the function would mean ALT 
text like ALT="decoration", but alternative text like this gives 
unnecessary clutter to text-only users and search engines.  If the ALT 
text were actually *giving* the function of the image, ALT="" would be the 
natural function of a purely decorative image.

2.  The Working Draft also advises the use of ALT text with APPLET.  I 
don't see a point to the existence of an ALT attribute with APPLET.  Since 
alternate content including markup can be provided as the content of the 
APPLET element, surely this is a preferred way of supplying an alternative 
for browsers with Java disabled or not supported.  Placing alternate 
content within the APPLET element also provides backwards compatibility 
with any browsers (or search engines) that do not recognize APPLET.

3.  The Working Draft provides the following example of ALT text:

<IMG src="logo.gif" alt="XYZ Logo">

This ALT text is descriptive rather than functional, so I think it would 
be better used as the TITLE.  The ALT text should take the place of the 
image rather than describe it:

<IMG src="logo.gif" alt="Welcome to XYZ" title="XYZ Logo">

4.  The Draft points out that text can be provided in the body of the 
OBJECT element.  It should also note this ability with APPLET.

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Liam Quinn
Web Design Group            Enhanced Designs, Web Site Development
http://www.htmlhelp.com/    http://enhanced-designs.com/
Received on Thursday, 5 February 1998 00:34:07 UTC

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