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ALT text (re Gregg Vanderheiden)

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charlesn@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 12:02:55 +1100 (EST)
To: "'IG - WAI Interest Group List'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
cc: "'GL - WAI Guidelines WG'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.91.980217114604.7890B-100000@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
Following up on Greg's four issues which need to bedealt with by a solution:

Where images are used as icons, it is often not very clear what the image 
IS, although it is supposed to be clear what the idea represented is. For 
a simple example http://www.cfd.rmit.edu.au/ had an icon which was 5 
horizontal lines. It meant Index, but I had to try it to work that out. 
ALT tagging it "INDEX" would have been helpful, whereas tagging it "5 
lines" would not.

A similar situation arises throughout the RMIT website. The RMIT logo is 
a red blob next to RMIT, sometimes with the word University underneath. 
This is used as a link to the RMIT Front Page thoughout the website. To 
describe it (it is a picture of a word) the best seems to be RMIT or RMIT 
logo, but to describe the link which the picture is supposed to describe, 
RMIT front page (or similar) is usually used.

Where decorative graphics are used, an ALT tag can give an idea of what 
is there. examples would be "pretty blue and pink line", "Picture of me 
in a red hat and boots", etc. Where a blue dot or similar is used as a 
bullet for list items, it seems tedious to read "blue dot Item one, blue 
dot Item two, blue dot Item forty seven, etc". In that situation I am 
inclined to use an asterisk, since I think the dot only serves a visual 
function. (I could be way off beam there - tell me people)

Spacer graphics are simple. Don't. There may be a case to be made for 
them when hell freezes over. I doubt it. How to convince web authors of 
that is another question.

TITLE and LONGDESC seem to provide a means for splitting the two 
functions of ALT which are identified above. Unfortunately, they are not 
backward compatible, so ALT text should be used as well, to provide 
whichever of the functions seems most important in a given case.

Just my 2 cents worth. And in Australia, that is not legal tender - it 
has to be rounded down to zero.

Charles McCathieNevile
Sunrise Research Laboratory
RMIT University
Received on Monday, 16 February 1998 20:20:43 GMT

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