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Re: WD-WAI-PAGEAUTH-0203 and the use of ALT text

From: Alan J. Flavell <flavell@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 1998 11:07:20 +0000 (GMT)
To: Jason White <jasonw@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au>
cc: HTML Guidelines Working Group <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.3.96.980206105400.919A-100000@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
On Fri, 6 Feb 1998, Jason White wrote:

> For the benefit of those reading the archives, the original message to
> which this is a reply was sent to the IG list rather than the GL list.

Thanks for pointing that out.  My apologies for not having chosen the
most appropriate list.  I hope the contribution was of some use
nevertheless.

> On Thu, 5 Feb 1998, Alan J. Flavell wrote:

> >  Surely, calling the text-mode reader's attention to a graph
> > that they can't read, while telling them nothing about what information it
> > contains, is worse than useless?  

> I partially agree. The ALT text, however, is appropriate in that it both
> identifies the presence of the graphic and indicates the nature of its
> contents.

> The example should be modified to include the LONGDESC attribute.

I still think that something like "Population distribution shows long tail
towards age 90"  (or whatever the graph was supposed to illustrate) is
more useful in an ALT text than "Graph of population age distribution",
with or without a more detailed description in LONGDESC or D-link. 
However, let's go along with your method for the sake of discussion. 

Having seen so many examples of ALT texts that do precisely what I was
complaining about, i.e calling the text-mode reader's attention to an
image that they cannot see, yet telling them nothing that they need to
know about its contents, I would urge that the provision of a LONGDESC (or
D-link) in the example at this point should be backed-up by an explanation
along the lines that you just gave.  Otherwise I fear that authors will
just carry on providing these useless ALT descriptions, believing
themselves to be in compliance with the guidelines, while shirking the
provision of the real information that was needed.

best regards
Received on Friday, 6 February 1998 06:07:47 GMT

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