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RE: Alt="" or " "?

From: Cynthia Shelly <cyns@whatuwant.net>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 16:58:29 -0700
Message-ID: <F0CBA28A8CE1D311B64300508BC21622555871@SARUMAN>
To: "'love26@gorge.net'" <love26@gorge.net>, w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
4) In Internet Explorer 4+, the alt-text is displayed as a tool-tip when a
mouse-using user hovers over the image.  alt=" " causes a tooltip with a
single blank character in it, or to the uninitiated, a weird little yellow
box.  The tooltip feature ignores alt="".

-----Original Message-----
From: love26@gorge.net [mailto:love26@gorge.net]
Sent: Thursday, September 28, 2000 4:24 PM
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Subject: Alt="" or " "?

From a meeting too long ago [15 June]: "Resolution: to provide author with
information and let them decide to use "" or " " for decorational images." I
think that means "decorative" but never one to avoid coining new words.

In summary: Authors must decide: 1) if a particular image is purely
decorational; 2) it's an image not worth writing any descriptive or
replacement text for; 3) which of the permissible predicates to put in the
attribute ALT=. Is it to be the emphatic null "", or the wishy-washy white
space " "? The considerations are: 1) one or both may trigger the dreaded
PROMPT "you've neglected to insert alt-text for the image foo.jpg - enter
here or sacrifice your Single-A Logo (and any thought of achieving Double-
or Triple-A!); 2) the viewer's screen reader may do anything from nothing
through a pause all the way to saying "space"; 3) The viewer may place a
curse on you for alt-text denial.

The choice is the authors' and my only recommendation is that they heed the
advice of their favorite assistive technology user. The important thing is
that no semantics be lost.

There is an essay at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-CORE-TECHS/#structure
<http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-CORE-TECHS/#structure>  in which it is pointed
out that <hr> (horizontal rule) isn't a structural element EXCEPT FOR
BLINDLESS READERS. Yet it could be if it had structural markup associated
with it. Many of an author's eye-candy conceits are used structurally -
without her even knowing she's doing that! Structure shouldn't be denied to
people with disabilities or to machines. Structure should be
device-independent. Having said all that, there are purely decorative that
need not be dealt with as if they conveyed meaning or structure and for
those elements alt="" or alt=" " are equally lame copouts.

Received on Thursday, 28 September 2000 20:10:47 UTC

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