W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > October to December 2001

Re: When to display alt + image

From: Jim Ley <jim@jibbering.com>
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2001 09:50:24 -0000
Message-ID: <000401c17fe8$60842de0$0c3c70c2@7020CT>
To: "WAI-GL" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
 "Joe Clark" <joeclark@contenu.nu>
> >When this came up before, the sense of the meeting in the User Agent
> >Guidelines Group was that there are at least two articulable
> >disability conditions where simultaneous display of image and ALT
> >should be available. These are low-vision cases and people with
> >certain cognitive difficulties.
> These groups should use title. alt should remain a replacement.

Title simply isn't sufficient to bring understanding, it's a title, it's
not a replacement, there's nothing wrong with displaying "alternative" and
"actual" content at once, what is surely important to a designer is that
their page is understood, the only way some users will understand is if
they can display alternative and actual at once.

> alt should remain a replacement. These highly unusual cases should
> not be accommodated by altering the default interpretation of an
> image *alternative* text.

What's the default interpretation, my interpretation is ALT is the
alternative if the image is not usable by the user, if that's because this
image happens to rely on red/green colour or because it relies on some
concept that a cognitive disability may not grasp readily, or ... any
other failure of the image as content.  Alternative does not mean that
only one could be displayed, it suggests only one could be understood.

> These groups-- and only a minority of
> low-vision or cognitively-disabled people are affected-- can and
> should rely on title.

They certainly cannot rely on title, otherwise TITLE and ALT would be
redundant we could just use one.

> Also, you're forgetting that attempting to simultaneously display an
> image and an alt text of up to 1K characters in length will destroy
> page layout. Not only will designers actively rebel, destroying page
> layout makes pages hard to understand, particularly for... low-vision
> and cognitively-disabled people.

Will it?  My implementations certainly don't destory page layout and can
be easily understood by me, I can't understand why you're arguing that a
user should not be able to display more than one of the alternatives at
once, it is of course a UA issue, but it's not one that's a problem, and
it's not one that designers have ever had a problem with, with both NN4
and IE4 having done it.

> Every conceivable function should not be collapsed on one text
> equivalent when we've got three to work with.

Yep, but they all have distinct meanings and you can't change the meaning
of title for some without making designers duplicate ALT and TITLE in any
case (which is clearly wrong.)

Received on Saturday, 8 December 2001 08:00:10 UTC

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