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RE: JAWS and name attribute for IMG

From: Chris O'Kennon <chris@vipnet.org>
Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 12:08:24 -0400
Message-ID: <BCECCA7B3D37D611ABC5009027D6228A040044@iexch1.vipnet.org>
To: "'john_slatin'" <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>, "Chris O'Kennon" <chris@vipnet.org>, "'Jim Ley'" <jim@jibbering.com>, "'WCAG (E-mail)'" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Most of our developers here use Dreamweaver, which sometimes had problems
with null ALT tags (they fixed it with Dreamweaver MX).  I guess we may be
trying to overcompensate for bad design, which often occurs on the
government level.  So many designers just leave off the ALT tags or - even
worse - leave off SOME ALT tags or leave some null that need defining, that
we wanted to make sure people knew when an image was important or not.  A
vision-impaired user will know that the image read as "pound sign" is
nothing important and not have to worry if an image not read was not read
because it was a transparent gif, or not read because someone forgot an ALT
tag that should have said, " ALT = "Clicking on this button will kill a

Is it possible to set JAWS to ignore images ALT tagged with a certain
character in the way it ignores null ALT tags?  Or, as may be the case, am I
wasting effort in trying to get around bad design with annoying design?

Chris O'Kennon
Commonwealth of Virginia Webmaster/
VIPNet Portal Architect
"This had better work." 
	-Grand Moff Tarkin

> -----Original Message-----
> From: john_slatin [mailto:john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu]
> Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 11:35 AM
> To: 'Chris O'Kennon'; 'Jim Ley'; john_slatin; 'WCAG (E-mail)'
> Subject: RE: JAWS and name attribute for IMG
> Jim, thanks for pointing out that I forgot to mention which 
> browser I was
> using.
> I was using IE 5.5 with JAWS 4.01 under Win98.  The same 
> behavior occurred
> with IE 6.0 and JAWS 4.02 under WinXP.
> I can think of several reasons why it's *not* appropriate for 
> JAWS to report
> the name attribute on IMG elements.
> Valid HTML specifically mandates that the ALT attribute be 
> present for *all*
> IMG elements.  Good practice also requires that ALT be set to 
> null (ALT="")
> for such things as spacer Gis and other images that do not 
> carry content,
> especially when those images are repeated and/or when 
> encountering them
> would distract or confuse someone using a screen reader, 
> talking browser,
> refreshable Braille, or text-only display.
> If developers then use the name attribute for internal 
> management (e.g., to
> keep track of which images go with which Javascript calls, as 
> was the case
> on the page where I first encountered this), and if AT then 
> *speaks* (or
> otherwise renders) the content of the name attribute which 
> users were not
> intended to hear or encounter, the required technique of 
> setting ALT="" is
> defeated, and *no one* benefits from the defeat!
> Chris, in response to your question about the way the ALT 
> attribute is used
> on the Virginia site, I'd say "no"-- an ALT text that's merely an
> identification number doesn't convey any meaning to the user, and the
> purpose of the ALT attribute is to provide a text *equivalent* for the
> functionality of the image.  If the function of the image is 
> to create blank
> space for layout (for example), then the equivalent 
> functionality for speech
> output is sielcne.
> How or whether users who are blind/have low vision hear about 
> images that
> have no ALT text depends on how they configure their screen 
> readers, at
> least for JAWS: if I tell JAWS to report "Only tagged 
> graphics," it will
> ignore images without ALT attributes in exactly the same way 
> that it will
> ignore images with ALT="".  That is, in both cases it will 
> act as though
> there is no image present.  "Only tagged images" is the 
> default setting;
> therefore, if there *is* ALT text there, JAWS will report it 
> whether it's
> meaningful or not.  It should either be meaningful or be 
> empty00 that is,
> silent.
> Sorry that was so long!
> John
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chris O'Kennon [mailto:chris@vipnet.org] 
> Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 8:16 am
> To: 'Jim Ley'; john_slatin; WCAG (E-mail)
> Subject: RE: JAWS and name attribute for IMG
> This brings up a discussion I recently had at a conference in 
> New Orleans.
> We had a visually impaired presenter tell us that she prefers 
> that images
> used solely for layout and convey no information be 
> identified with ALT="".
> I maintain the Commonwealth of Virginia portal, and we use 
> ALT="#" (with the
> first image identifying what the # stands for).  The reason 
> we do this is
> because there didn't seem to be any way for a blind user to tell the
> difference between an image with an empty ALT tag and an image someone
> FORGOT to ALT tag.  Has there been any discussion (and I 
> apologize if there
> has been, as I'm a newbie here) on how to best address this?  
> Does the NAME
> attribute work on all browsers?
> Chris O'Kennon
> Commonwealth of Virginia Webmaster/
> VIPNet Portal Architect
> www.myvirginia.org 
> ******************************************
> "This had better work." 
> 	-Grand Moff Tarkin
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Jim Ley [mailto:jim@jibbering.com]
> > Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 8:19 AM
> > To: john_slatin; WCAG (E-mail)
> > Subject: Re: JAWS and name attribute for IMG
> > 
> > 
> > "john_slatin" <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>
> > > I just discovered something surprising (at least to me):
> > >
> > > For IMG elements, JAWS 4.01 reports the *name* attribute when  
> > > ALT="" and there is no TITLE attribute.
> > 
> > I think this would make a lot of sense in the case where
> > there was no ALT
> > attribute at all. You don't say which browser you're using 
> > with JAWS but
> > it's possible that the browser doesn't expose the difference between
> > ALT="" and no ALT in the DOM, in which case it would still 
> > need to do the
> > repair activity.
> > 
> > Jim.
> > 
Received on Thursday, 2 May 2002 12:08:33 UTC

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