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Re: alt for icons

From: Alan J. Flavell <flavell@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 2 May 2001 13:44:26 +0100 (BST)
To: Anne Pemberton <apembert@erols.com>
cc: WAI Guidelines List <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.4.21-pb.0105021303290.32331-100000@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
On Wed, 2 May 2001, Anne Pemberton wrote:

>     I haven't looked at something in lynx for a long time, but I thought I
> remembered that lynx put the alt tag in brackets < > 

Lynx does not put the ALT text in brackets, and as far as I know
it never has.  And certainly not pointy brackets. 

You might be confusing this with Lynx's habit (variously in different
versions) of generating a placeholder in square brackets, when the
author has failed to supply an ALT attribute.  It used to be something
like [IMAGE] or [LINK] or [USEMAP]; more recent versions insert the
image filename, producing exciting sites such as this one

   [USEMAP:circle_1.gif] [USEMAP:circle_2.gif] [USEMAP:life_1.gif]
                                               [USEMAP:circle_3.gif]
   [USEMAP:life_2.gif]
   [USEMAP:circle_4.gif]
   [USEMAP:life_3.gif]

and so on, ad nauseam...

But where an unsympathetic author _has_ provided ALT attributes (and
even goes so far as to claim compliance with Bobby validation!), we
get to see this nonsense instead:

      spacer spacer spacer spacer logo

(139 matches for that phrase at Altavista!).

> .... If this is no
> longer (or never was) the case, then it would be more sensible to change
> the browsers so that punctuation is added to set off the image text when it
> is presented visually.

Sorry, I can't agree.  Then the conscientious author would have no way
to incorporate their desired text string seamlessly into the text-mode
result, since there would be no way to tell the browser to omit the
brackets when the author knew they were superfluous.

The solution IMHO is not to take inappropriate ALT text, as was
exhibited in the samples on which you are commenting, and then to
forcibly delimit it in the browser with additional punctutation.  The
solution is to promote the use of appropriate ALT texts, with
delimiters supplied or not supplied by the author according to the
desired context.  And put the blame for doing it wrong on those
authors who are doing it wrong, whether by omitting ALT attributes or
by using them badly.

> At 05:08 PM 5/1/01 -0700, Adam Victor Reed wrote:
> >I have an attention deficit, so I often use lynx to avoid distractions.
> >Alt text appears in place of graphics, so it merges with other text if
> >not set off with punctuation. It is NOT accessible if it appears as
> >
> >    1. Markup tools icon one Markup tools icon two Markup tools icon

The proffered ALT text here is clearly inappropriate, in a way that no
amount of browser kludging could repair.  Please, let's not make
things harder for those who are trying to do it right, in an effort to
mask the faults of those who are doing it wrong.

If you're interested in commenting further on what Lynx does, it
shouldn't be so hard to get a copy and observe it in action (unless
your only access is to a Mac, for which there never seems to have been
a satisfactory port).  Try starting from http://lynx.browser.org and
following the relevant links. Some on-line services which aim to give
an impression of Lynx's presentation are cited from the Lynx links
site, but seem to be ancient Lynx versions or no longer accessible.  
But anyone interested in text-mode browsers should also look at w3m,
at least.

best regards
Received on Wednesday, 2 May 2001 08:44:37 GMT

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