W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > October to December 1998

Re: Redundant alt text??

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@access.digex.net>
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 1998 09:42:36 -0500 (EST)
Message-Id: <199811181442.JAA06361@access1.digex.net>
To: g.gay@utoronto.ca (Greg Gay)
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
For those who haven't looked at the SNOW site, I have copied a
Lynx dump below.


I am delighted that you wrote.  The SNOW site is such a marvelous
resource that it is a strong candidate to be on our hit list of
highly-publicized good sites.  But there is this problem with the
barrage of links at the head, as you have said.

I agree that the image and text links done the way it is on
<http://snow.utoronto.ca/index.html> at present amounts to
overkill.  On the other hand, even the text links alone are not
really a good idea at this position in the reading flow.

This issue was covered pretty well in a discussion thread
that took place on the interest group list.  Pardon the indirection,
but if you go to 
you will find links to both the discussion thread on WAI-IG
list and the ACB site where the hyperlink remedy is used.

The general idea is that you should make it easier for the
visitor browsing in audio to get to the prose on this page.



                    [1]Navigation Bar: Text Links Below
               | [2]Events | [3]Search | [4]Index | [5]Help |
                  [6]SNOW Navigation Bar: Text Links Below
    | [7]Professional Development | [8]Curriculum | [9]Best Practices |
   [10]Off To School | [11]Technical Help | [12]Resources | [13]Forums |
    [14]SNOW Kids | [15]New at SNOW | [16]Featured Course | [17]Related
                                  Sites |
   SNOW (Special Needs Opportunity Windows) is a project aimed at
   supporting educators of students with special needs. Our web site
   serves as a clearinghouse of practical resources and curriculum
   materials, as a place for educators to meet and share ideas, and as a
   place for educators to develop their professional skills.
   If you are a teacher or parent interested in participating in SNOW,
   you can contribute in a number of ways. The easiest way to join our
   community is to participate in our [18]online discussion forums. You
   may also [19]add a link to our site, either your own site, or one you
   think would add to the resources at SNOW. If you are interested in
   sharing curriculum material via the SNOW site, an upload/download
   feature is available in the [20]Shared Curriculum section of the site.
   To volunteer for the SNOW team, fill out the [21]participation form.
   You may also keep abreast of the happenings at SNOW by adding yourself
   to the [22]SNOW mailing list. If you are interested in creating and
   moderating an online workshop or course, please contact us at
   Also, be sure to check out [24]SNOW Kids, our sister site with
   activities for special needs children! To find out more about the
   project and our sponsors, visit our [25]About SNOW information page,
   and to see what's new, visit the [26]NEW at SNOW page.
         [27]Powered by Silicon Graphics Computer Systems [28]ATRC
                         [29]Goverment of Ontario 


   1. LYNXIMGMAP:http://snow.utoronto.ca/#banner2
   2. http://snow.utoronto.ca/events.html
   3. http://snow.utoronto.ca/search.html
   4. http://snow.utoronto.ca/siteindex.html
   5. http://snow.utoronto.ca/snowhelp.html
   6. LYNXIMGMAP:http://snow.utoronto.ca/#frontMap
   7. http://snow.utoronto.ca/prof_dev.html
   8. http://snow.utoronto.ca/curriculum.html
   9. http://snow.utoronto.ca/best.html
  10. http://snow.utoronto.ca/ots
  11. http://snow.utoronto.ca/help.html
  12. http://snow.utoronto.ca/resources.html
  13. http://snow.utoronto.ca/forums.html
  14. http://snow.utoronto.ca/snowkids
  15. http://snow.utoronto.ca/newsnow.html
  16. http://snow.utoronto.ca:1800/public/Learn2
  17. http://snow.utoronto.ca/relSites
  18. http://snow.utoronto.ca/forums.html
  19. http://snow.utoronto.ca/addlinks/usrlinks6.html
  20. http://snow.utoronto.ca/folders.html
  21. http://snow.utoronto.ca/involve.html#participate
  22. http://snow.utoronto.ca/involve.html
  23. mailto:snow.general@utoronto.ca
  24. http://snow.utoronto.ca/snowkids/index.html
  25. http://snow.utoronto.ca/about.html
  26. http://snow.utoronto.ca/newsnow.html
  27. http://www.sgi.com/International/Canada/
  28. http://www.utoronto.ca/atrc
  29. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/

to follow up on what Greg Gay said:

> Hello Al
> > > Listening to alt text and then alternative text
> > > links causes confusion.
> > >
> > > Should it not be one or the other? Preferable text links
> >
> > Yes, you are hitting on a point where web content, prepared
> > according to these guidelines, is still not ideal.  But it still
> > needs to be as the guidelines say to work within the limitations
> > of HTML.
> >
> It's not an HTML problem but rather a designer problem. I am not suggesting
> that a link be included in the ALT text, though this would be ideal, but
> rather a text  link replace the ALT text in a separate link immediately below
> the linked image or image map.
> Creating an anchor linked from the top of an image map to the text links, as
> you suggest, does allow the user to click it and jump to the text links below,
> but this is only useful to sighted users, or those with enough scripting
> experience to write a script that tells JAWS, for example, to begin reading at
> the link immediately following the jumped to anchor tag.
> The utility of ALT text in linked images is questionable. Spending a couple
> hours with a JAWS user, it became immediately clear that having to listen to
> everything twice was a major annoyance to her. She strongly recomended not
> including ALT text with linked images and image maps, but rather to include a
> text link below without the ALT text, or include the ALT text without the text
> links. One or the other, but not both.
> In support of using text links, JAWS does not handle ALT text well in
> Netscape. It most often reads the URL of linked images, rather than ALT text.
> The same goes for image maps. Text links on the otherhand are read as the text
> between the href tags rather than its URL. One glitch we noticed with Netscape
> and JAWS is that text links are read as URLs when they are in Times Roman, but
> read as the linked text when the font is Arial. I have no explanation for this
> other than an incompatibility between JAWS and Netscape.  With Internet
> Explorer it works somewhat better, reading the ALT text of the linked image,
> but the user must still listen to every linked image or image map twice. Text
> links are read as the linked text rather than the URL in IE regardless of the
> font face.
> Since text links are compatible with all browsers and screen readers, they
> should be the preferred means of providing alternative descriptions for linked
> images.
> We currently include both ALT text and text links for  linked images though we
> are seriously thinking of eliminating ALT text. The default ALT text of the
> image, rather than the image map, points the user to a set of text links
> immediately below the map or image. See the SNOW site for an example.
> http://snow.utoronto.ca
> I strongly recommend that authoring guidelines outline the problems associated
> with redundant links and ALT text for linked images and image maps, suggesting
> to designers that they include one or the other, but not both, and that for
> compatibility purposes text links are preferred over ALT text. One work around
> alternative is to place linked images within DIV tags. Screen readers will
> ignore DIVs. If text links are included outside images surrounded by DIV tags
> the redundancy is avoided for the screen reader user. A LONGDESC of the image
> map, if required, will provide the user with a description of what they are
> missing if they choose read it.
> > One problem is that ALT text mentioning that there are text links
> > at the foot of the page is just text, and there is no easy way
> > for the screen reader user to find the head of that list of
> > links.  This is related to the reasoning that says OBJECT is a
> > superior language capability; but OBJECT is snarled in
> > implementation inconsistencies from which it may never recover.
> >
> > If ALT only allowed a fully-formed hyperlink, with both text
> > content and jump destination, you could reasonably offer
> > navigation to the text links as an alternative to the image map.
> > But it ain't like that.  So please document your MAP AREAs.
> >
> > Try putting together an example with AREA=DEFAULT linking to the
> > text-nav panel.  That might be worth a look.
> >
> > For the "image links" sub-case, the text links at the foot of the
> > page lacks the contextual relevance that makes hypertext great.
> > The image links appear somewhere in the flow of the page.  Where
> > they appear in the page is part of what cues the reader as to why
> > the reader might want to jump there.  That is why it is important
> > to capture the jump option in text at the point where it arises
> > in the flow, and not merely provide _some jump opportunity to the
> > same destination_ somewhere else.
> >
> > Al
> >
> > -- all quote below
> >
> > >
> > > "http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/wai-gl-techniques-19980918.html
> > > Technique A.1.3.2
> > > In addition to providing alt-text, provide redundant textual links. If
> > > the A element is used instead of AREA, the author may describe the
> > > active regions and provide redundant links at the same time:"
> > >
> > > Greg Gay
> > > Adaptive Technology Resource Centre
> > > University of Toronto
> > >
> Greg Gay
> Adaptive Technology Resource Centre
> University of Toronto
Received on Wednesday, 18 November 1998 09:42:56 UTC

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