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ALT and TITLE Clarification

From: Chris Ridpath <chris.ridpath@utoronto.ca>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 14:59:05 -0500
Message-ID: <02ba01c4e797$863f9b90$e29a968e@WILDDOG>
To: "WAI WCAG List" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

This is a formal request to the WCAG group to clarify the use of ALT and
TITLE attributes.

In the upcoming WCAG2 we have the opportunity to make changes that can
increase web accessibility. One of these changes is to clarify the use of
ALT and TITLE attributes as used by the IMG, AREA, INPUT and A (anchor)
elements.

Currently, the use of Alt text depends upon the element's context. For
example, an image on its own requires Alt text that describes the image. If
the same image is used as a link, the Alt text describes the link
destination. If the same image is used as a submit button, the Alt text
describes the form's purpose.

Over the years we've become used to this, worked around it and now treat it
as normal. However, the multiple uses of Alt text can be confusing for both
author and reader.

PROPOSALS
1) The TITLE attribute of the AREA, INPUT (with type of "image") and A
(anchor) elements be used to describe the element's purpose or function.

2) The ALT attribute be used always as a short description of the image.

The wording in these proposals is very general but if there is interest I
will create more precise text.

The use of ALT and TITLE attributes for these purposes is within the UAAG
and HTML4 specifications.

These changes would benefit the user and increase accessibility by having
clear roles for these attributes. It would increase the amount of semantic
information associated with anchors, submit buttons and image maps.

Cheers,
Chris

P.S. I realize the WCAG2 is getting close to release and don't want to slow
things down. But there has been a lot of confusion regarding the use of
these attributes and it would be beneficial to resolve these issues before
the WCAG2 comes out.
Received on Tuesday, 21 December 2004 19:59:49 GMT

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