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ALT text revisited

From: Liam Quinn <liam@htmlhelp.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 20:36:36 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Here's a proposal that aims to provide consistency and simplicity:

I-1) The role of ALT text:  ALT text provides a textual replacement for an
image marked up using the IMG element.  The replacement text is functional
in nature such that the document can be read aloud without knowing that
images are present.

ALT text should not be used with the APPLET element since richer alternate
content can be provided as the content of the element.

I-2) The role of TITLE:  The TITLE attribute provides a short textual
description of the element, whether it be IMG, A, OBJECT, P, etc.  For
example, the TITLE attribute on the A element would briefly describe the
link while the TITLE attribute on IMG would briefly describe the graphic
visually.  Note that using TITLE functionally does not work for elements
like A where the function--a hyperlink--is implicit in the element itself.

The TITLE attribute is always optional, but should be used liberally with
IMG, A, OBJECT, and APPLET elements.

I-3) Decorative graphics and spacer graphics:  Decorative graphics and
spacer graphics are not essential elements of a media-independent page and
should be replaced with nothing (ALT="").  Blind users who want to know
what the page looks like should first understand that the Web is not a
visual medium.  If they still want to know what a page might look like
visually, they should make use of the TITLE and LONGDESC attributes, which
could be offered upon request by the browser.  (E.g., "List all TITLE
attributes on images.")

I-4) The LONGDESC attribute:  The LONGDESC attribute should provide a rich,
long description of the image.  This attribute is especially useful for
pure content images like photographs, but is also helpful for logos whose
visual artistry can convey subtle meanings that would be missed by a
functional replacement.

Liam Quinn
Web Design Group            Enhanced Designs, Web Site Development
http://www.htmlhelp.com/    http://enhanced-designs.com/
Received on Monday, 16 February 1998 20:35:52 UTC

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