W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > January to March 2005

Re: ALT and TITLE Clarification

From: Chris Ridpath <chris.ridpath@utoronto.ca>
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2005 10:01:15 -0500
Message-ID: <042801c4f4c9$bc3af200$e29a968e@WILDDOG>
To: "Andrew Kirkpatrick" <andrew_kirkpatrick@wgbh.org>, "WAI WCAG List" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Cc: <jim@jimthatcher.com>

> ...the information in the title attribute is not reserved for
> accessibility and therefore the types of usage can be
> expected to be highly varied...
This is the same for the alt attribute but we seem to use alt for
accessibility alone. Placing information in the title attribute regarding
the purpose of the element seems much more correct than placing it in the
alt attribute.

> Of the image or the purpose of it?  For example, on the prototype WAI home
> page (http://www.w3.org/2004/09/wai-nav/Overview.html), should the image
> the plus on the left have alt="+" or alt="expand getting started section"?
> I vote for the latter, and therefore not always descriptions for alt.
The latter is the way things are done now and it removes the description of
the image. In your example I suggest that the alt text should be "+" or
"plus sign". The text "expand getting started section" should go in the
title. User agents can give the user "expand getting started section" and
also "plus sign" if the user wants to know what the image looks like.

Why remove the description of the image when we don't have to?

> Generally, yes, but always? Often there are images with text that are also
> decorative (e.g. http://www.btyahoo.com/internet has the building blocks
> image).
In this example I suggest the alt text should be "building blocks with text
that says 'added security', 'customize your internet', 'greater contact' and
'optional extras'". The title attribute would say "BT Yahoo features and

User agents could give the title text and the alt text to the user. Let's
keep the image description.

In an earlier message, Joe Clark noted:

> > 2) Any text in image must also be in Alt text
> Impossible in many cases, as in photographs of signage, books, or type
> samples. And if you think those never come up, you aren't me or my
> friends.
Joe - could you provide some examples for us to look at?

> > > - TITLE attribute must be empty
> Why?  Using title on an image doesn't cause any problems, does it?
We're still discussing this issue and it may resolve that you can use the
image title. I've adopted this position (image title must be empty) until we
resolve the issue.

> If this is the conduit for information about the destination or the action
> from a link (e.g. the WAI home page example above), would the alt on the
> image be "+" and the title on the anchor would be "expand about WAI
> section"?  Do we expect the UA's to concatenate the different information
> just provide an indication of the availability of the information in the
> title attribute that is needed to understand the anchor?
I believe the UAAG is not clear on this issue (corrections anyone?).

I expect that UAs would provide the link destination with the option of also
providing the image description.

> > > INPUT element (with TYPE of "image")
> > > - TITLE attribute describes purpose of form (e.g. search or find)
> I'd leave this out.  Alt is required here, and for this purpose.
I argue that we keep the image description in the alt text - don't dump it.
A better place to put the form purpose is in the title attribute.

I propose that the text for a form submit button should describe the purpose
of the form (e.g. search or find). In earlier messages others have
disagreed. Until we agree, I'll keep calling form submit button text a
"description of the purpose of the form".

> It would be easier, but I think that there is a need to be able to
> more than a description of the image (unless I'm asuming incorrectly that
> you mean more than "what the image looks like").
I mean "what the image looks like" should go in the alt text. Shouldn't
everyone have access to this information? Any extra information goes in a
title attribute.

> Developers will use title for lots of different types of information - do
> you feel that it can be claimed for accessibility?  Am I overstating your
> intents?
We're already claiming elements and attributes for accessibility. I'm just
trying to clarify their use.

This proposal means that we would use alt and title a bit differently from
what we do now. It's a minor course correction that would mean user agents
would eventually have to make small changes. The long term gain is that we
keep the description of all images.

Received on Friday, 7 January 2005 15:01:59 UTC

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