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Re: alt title and links

From: Alan J. Flavell <flavell@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2001 19:15:05 +0100 (BST)
To: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
cc: WAI Guidelines List <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.OSF.4.30.0108191842330.4977-100000@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk>
On Sun, 19 Aug 2001, Al Gilman wrote:

> >I guess my views on the alt attribute of the <img ..> are already well
> >known: the detailed wording of any recommendation gets kicked around,
> >but it's meant in general terms to serve as a text-mode _alternative_
> >for the _purpose_ of the image.
> Yes, and Google has pronounced your page the winning answer to this FAQ.

Yessir, and I suspect this is because I've tried (in my imperfect way)
to follow the text-mode accessibility guidelines which I espouse.  But
this is only part of the whole story, as I'm keenly aware.

> Please, however, take a look at
> affective messaging and effective mode-crossing
> <http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/wai-tech-comments/2001Aug/0001.html>htt
> p://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/wai-tech-comments/2001Aug/0001.html
> and consider integrating some version of this development into your site.

Thanks.  As I think you know, this is actually more of a hobby[1] for
me than part of my mainstream job, but I'm keen to ensure that any
advice I offer is at least compatible with that offered by
specialists.  So I'm eager to do what I can, even if I can't provide
any guarantees.

Shawn Henry's quoted discussion at your cited URL expresses the
dilemma very well indeed, and this is an issue that comes up
repeatedly, so it's very useful to have a concrete example to focus

There _is_ a significant dilemma here, as we've seen also in the past,
in as much as some of us (they know who I mean) consider the key to be
the _information_ which a site means to convey, irrespective of the
media available to convey it: they would do their best to make that
information available no matter what the reader's browsing situation;
whereas a number of would-be users of that information who happen to
be blind have decided that a web page is an inherently visual
experience and have expressed their wish to have that visual
experience described to them, otherwise they in effect accuse us of a
form of censorship.  I'm left in a complete dilemma here, as I can't
perceive any effective way of satisfying both requirements at the same

The key comment that hit me in your analysis was this one:

| But I think that you should take a business-positive approach,
| rather than a disability-defensive approach.

I really don't think I can say it better!  The alt text is for
providing a functional text-mode alternative to the image, and since
the image was (in this case) there to motivate the reader, the alt
text should IMHO clearly be used for just the same purpose.  How to do
that in detail is limited only by the creativeness of the author, but
the principle seems clear to me.

The alt text is not just there for formal compliance by rote with some
dry-as-dust ordinance. It has a real meaningful job to play.

all the best

[1] "hobby-horse", as some have expressed it :-}
Received on Sunday, 19 August 2001 14:15:08 UTC

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