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RE: ALT text

From: Charles (Chuck) Oppermann <chuckop@MICROSOFT.com>
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 1998 17:39:39 -0800
Message-ID: <E3A3FFB80F5CD1119CED00805FBECA2F013BBD4C@red-msg-55.dns.microsoft.com>
To: HTML Guidelines Working Group <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
I strongly disagree with this interpretation of ALT.  Every book I have on
HTML specifies that ALT is a description of the image.  The HTML 4.0
specification says that TITLE is "advisory information."

Are we now reversing that?  Are we going to say "Use TITLE as functional
information EXCEPT when there is a image and then use it as a description of
the image?"

So for a textual link it would go like this:

<A HREF=homepage.htm TITLE="enter my home page">
Click here

but for a image link it would be:

<A HREF=homepage.htm TITLE="enter my home page">
<IMG SRC="globle.gif" TITLE="picture of the world" ALT="enter my home page">

That's making exceptions in the meaning of TITLE.  In my view it should be:

<A HREF=homepage.htm TITLE="enter my home page">
<IMG SRC="globle.gif" ALT="picture of the world">

I look at the above examples and think it's clear why there is a separation
between ALT and TITLE.  For starters, in this case, the image *object* has
no functional meaning.  It's the anchor surrounding it which gives it
functional meaning and as such the TITLE indicates that.  Just like it would
for non-image links.

The whole reason TITLE was invented was to supplement existing attributes,
not to replace them.

Changing the meaning of ALT now is likely to kill the gains we've made in
getting it accepted.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jason White [mailto:jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU]
Sent: Thursday, February 05, 1998 5:02 PM
To: HTML Guidelines Working Group
Subject: RE: ALT text

I agree with Liam's interpretation. To simplify the matter, I would
suggest that the TITLE attribute should not be used in connection with
IMG. Use ALT to provide a genuine substitute for the image which conveys
the informational content of the image, or, if associated with a long
description, gives it an identifying label so that the reader can decide
whether to access the resource referred to by the LONGDESC attribute.

TITLE on anchor elements is perfectly acceptable, and indeed the HTML 4.0
specification clearly demarcates its role as providing the title of the
resource to which the link refers. It is an "advisory" title in the sense
that it is displayed prior to the actual retrieval of the information
designated by the link.
Received on Thursday, 5 February 1998 20:41:56 UTC

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