text-equiv issues summary

Guideline 1.1 (text-equiv) issues.

Overview of issues

Close without action

Issue 170 - accessibility of advertising

Issue: What do we want to require and at what level in terms of accessibility for advertising which is pushed onto a web site?

Notes from 18 Sept 2003 telecon suggest, "The suggestion was that sites be allowed to claim conformance even if advertisements did not conform as long as the advertisements did not block access to the rest of the content." However, that was at a time when we were trying to be extremely explicit. More recently, we have decided to provide the basics (with broad caveats where necessary), but to leave the case-by-case issues to policy makers. Also, Level 1 success criteria in Guideline 1.1 is written in such a way that if the developers of a site feel that ads are functional, they can provide a label. If ads are something that can be skipped, mark it so that it can be ignored.

Propose: No change. Close this issue.

Issue 373 - add using text-to-speech to 1.1 benefits

In a previous version, the first benefit said, "...have the text read aloud to them" which could be interpreted as, "read by a person." The issue is a request to clarify that it is read through speech synthesis.

The 19 November draft says, "People who are blind, have low vision, have cognitive disabilities or have trouble reading text for any reason can have the text read aloud to them by assistive technology." The phrase, "by assistive technology" should clarify this issue.

Propose: No change. Close this issue.

Issue 664 - importance of text description of visual appearance of images used buttons

The comment is specific to a previous version of Example 1. The reviewer believes it is "important to provide a textual description of the appearance of an image used to represent a button in order to allow effective communication between a person using the textual description and a person using the visual presentation. For example, it poses a significant problem when a person who is blind tells a coworker to click on the "delete button" when the sighted user sees a picture of a garbage can-and vice versa."

Propose: Close this issue. Respond to the reviewer that a text alternative fulfills our purpose which is to ensure that the content is perceivable and usable to someone with a disability. How they use that information to interact with others should be their responsibility.

Issue 665 - a screen reader might read...

Several comments on a previous example. Significant changes were made to the 19 November draft to provide a clearer example.

Propose: Close this issue.

Issue 791 - Benefits - first benefit is not applicable to this guideline

The reviewer says that Guideline 1.1 does not benefit people who have difficulty reading text and that the first benefit should read, "People who are blind, have low vision, or have cognitive disabilities can have the text read aloud to them by assistive technology."

Some people with reading disabilities use tools that both read text aloud and highlight the words being read. Wouldn't it be confusing if their tools read, "image" for images? Part of someone's reading disability could be the inability to recognize visual information in general. Therefore, they might need assistance determining the purpose of the non-text content.

Propose: no change. close issue.

Issue 890 - Clarification for border and spacer images

The primary theme of the reviewer's comment (about the 11 March 2004 WD) is that "This guideline does not seem to leave any room for a null alt attribute." Recent drafts include the new criterion: "Non-text content that does not provide information, functionality, or sensory experience is marked such that it can be ignored by assistive technology."

Propose: no change. close issue.

Issue 951 - Ease of access

Reviewer says, "This checkpoint states a requirement for text-equivalent content, but it is also important to stress the need for <em>ease of access</em> to this content."

Propose: This is a user agent issue. Close the issue, no changes.

Issue 1004 - Clarifications for 1.1, level 1 criterion

Proposals from September should address the issues. Were incorporated into 19 November draft.

Propose: close the issue.

Issue 1024 - Text alternatives should be meaningful

Another request for clarifying "null alt-text" which is covered by, "Non-text content that does not provide information, functionality, or sensory experience is marked such that it can be ignored by assistive technology."

Propose: Close this issue.

Issue 1078 - duplicate of 1075


Issue 1082 - A success criterion is needed that covers when a large amount of text is needed to ensure equivalency.

Reviewer says that to provide long descriptions of non-text content (e.g., a chart - you may have an entire page of description) and you may want to include it on the same page, not via longdesc (html-specific). However, the current wording of the success criterion wouldn't allow in-page description because the text alternative must be explicitly associated with the non-text content.

The reviewer proposes:

"Each instance of non-text content has at least one text alternative of fewer than 150 characters that is explicitly associated it...."

and adding another Level 1 success criteria: "Text alternatives of more than 150 characters are provided either inline or via an adjacent text link."

There are several issues with the proposal:

  1. It is English specific.
  2. 150 is either arbitrary or influenced by an existing tool.
  3. It is HTML specific. Other technologies do not provide multiple ways to associate text alternatives and it is the goal of the XHTML WG that img will be replaced by something more generic (ala object) so that any object can be embedded in the same way (this goes back to the original discussions of img and reactions to Andreesen's proposal and subsequent proposals about a "fig" element to include figures.)

The Techniques Task Force has been wrestling for months with a test for short alt-text and have been unable to resolve the issue. Perhaps a discussion by the WCAG WG will shed light, but it seems like a rat hole.

I believe that the existing success criterion say that the text alternative should be as long as needed to satisfy the criterion. Then, it is up to technology-specifics to determine if it is long or short.

Propose: no change. close.

Issue 1232 - Issue Summary for guideline 1.1 (text-equiv)


Issue 1321 - Alt text for graphics should be lower priority

The reviewer writes:

it is my opinion that using Alt tags for graphics, should be a Priority 2, or 3 as I've run into too many companies/businesses that think just because they have alt tags on their images that their site is accessible. And they don't have to do anything more to achieve true accessibility.

While some organizations do not understand the breadth of techniques for making content accessible, if alt-text is moved to level 2 or 3 it is less likely to be implemented and it doesn't mean that people will shift their focus to other techniques. Instead, the web community needs to better educate developers about the wide range of techniques that are needed to make content accessible.

Propose: Decline. Close this issue.

Issue 1322 is duplicate of 1321.


Adopt proposal and close

Issue 404 - More examples for text-equiv checkpoint

Requests to clarify 1.1 via examples, particularly null alt-text.

There are currently 5 examples for Guideline 1.1:

Success Criteria Corresponding Examples
Level 1 #1 - For all non-text content that is functional, such as graphical links or buttons, text alternatives identify the purpose or function of the non-text content.

[Existing] Example 1: an image used as a button.
A magnifying glass icon is used to link to the search page of a Web site. A screen reader identifies the button as a link and speaks the text alternative, "Search."

Level 1 #2 - For all non-text content that is used to convey information, text alternatives convey the same information.

[Existing] Example 2: a data chart.
A bar chart compares how many widgets were sold in June, July, and August. The short label says, "Figure one - Sales in June, July and August." The longer description identifies the type of chart, provides a high-level summary of the data comparable to that available from the chart, and provides the data in a table.

Level 1 #2 - For all non-text content that is used to convey information, text alternatives convey the same information.

[Existing] Example 3: a recording of a speech
The link to an audio clip says, "Chairman's speech to the assembly." A link to a text transcript is provided immediately after the link to the audio clip.

Level 1 #3 - For non-text content that is intended to create a specific sensory experience, such as music or visual art, text alternatives identify and describe the non-text content.

[Existing] Example 4: a recording of a symphony.
The link to an audio file says, "Beethoven's 5th Symphony performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra."

Level 1 #2 - For all non-text content that is used to convey information, text alternatives convey the same information.

[Existing] Example 5: an animation that illustrates how a car engine works.
An animation shows how a car engine works. There is no audio and the animation is part of a tutorial that describes how an engine works. All that is needed is a description of the image. From "How car engines work: Internal combustion"

Level 1 #4 - Non-text content that does not provide information, functionality, or sensory experience is marked such that it can be ignored by assistive technology. [Proposed] Example 6: a pair of images used to create a visual effect.
Two images are used to create curved edges on a "tab" interface. The images do not provide information, functionality, or a sensory experience and are marked such that they can be ignored by an assistive technology.
Level 1 #5 - Any text alternatives are explicitly associated with the non-text content. There are issues with this criterion. Propose that we do not create an example for it since it would be technology-specific.
Level 1 #6 - For live audio-only or live video-only content, such as internet radio or Web cameras, text alternatives describe the purpose of the presentation or a link is provided to alternative real-time content, such as traffic reports for a traffic Web camera [Proposed] Example 7: an internet radio station.
A radio station broadcasts over the internet. The station's Web site describes the type of music played, a schedule of the shows, and the "current song" is updated each time the DJ starts a new track. Interviews are recorded and published in the archives. Transcripts of the archived interviews are provided ala Guideline 1.2. [@@ expect this will be controversial. Also, I'm describing a typical internet radio site, not necessarily all of the things needed to make it accessible. May be confusing.]

[Proposed] Example 8: a traffic Web camera.
A Web site allows end-users to select from a variety of Web cameras positioned throughout a major city. After a camera is selected, the image updates every 2 minutes. A short text alternative identifies the Web camera as, "TraffiCam." The site also provides a table of travel times for each of the routes covered by the Web cameras. The table is updated every 2 minutes.

Did not propose examples for criteria other than Level 1 since only other criterion is level 3 and is real-time captioning.

Issue 437 - Interpretation of Example 4

The reviewer misinterprets what was example 4 (now is example 3: a recording of a speech) thinking that it was a video recording, when it is only an audio clip. Therefore, since it is only audio it doesn't need captions and a transcript is the appropriate solution (as described in the example).

Propose: Change the "title" of this example from "a recording of a speech" to "an audio recording of a speech (no video)" and close the issue.

Issue 588 - addition to first benefit under 1.1

Add "...or otherwise transformed to different presentation format (e.g. font, text size)" to the first bullet under Benefits.

Propose: Accept the edit so that the first benefit reads: People who are blind, have low vision, have cognitive disabilities or have trouble reading text for any reason can have the text read aloud to them by assistive technology or otherwise transform the presentation of the text to meet their needs (e.g., change the font face, the text size, or the background and foreground colors).

Issue 663 - additional benefits for 1.1

The reviewer proposes eight additional benefits for guideline 1.1 that are not accessibility-related but demonstrate how providing text altneratives can have additional benefits. Instead of providing such a detailed list, propose a benefit that summarizes the additional benefits and that general techniques will either link to a resource that describes additional benefits in more detail or include a more thorough discussion.

Propose: Add another benefit: Additionally, text alternatives support the ability to search for non-text content and to repurpose content in a variety of ways.

Requires further action or discussion

Issue 587 - definition of text equivalent

Comment about the definition of text equivalent,

This is not a definition. I would first define "text" as code representing written language, that is a one-to-one mapping of alphabetic and numeric symbols. Then define "text-equivalent" as text that serves to communicate substantially equivalent content as another representation such as an image.

While this comment is about the June 2003 draft, we use the same definition in the 19 November 2004 draft (although the term has changed from "text equivalent" to "text alternative"). The reviewer suggests to define "text" and then define "text equivalent." In September 2004, I proposed definitions for text, unicode, and non-text content (for issue 673). Richard and Martin responded, so i proposed a modification. Gregg had a concern about ASCII art. We discussed at the 09 Sept 2004 telecon.

Propose: Action wendy: propose new definitions of text, non-text content, and Unicode based on previous discussions. After we agree on definitions and close issue 673, propose a definition of text alternative based on new definitions of text, non-text content, and Unicode.

Issue 666 - UA support for obtaining textual descriptions and extraneous links

The comment is in response to the following phrase from an example "A link to a text transcript is provided immediately after the clip." Reviewer says that (when supported) metadata should be used to associate the link with the content it is the alternative for. This relates to the issue about excplicitly linking content with text alternatives. It seems more techniquey than a suggestion for a change in success criterion. Therefore, not sure what to do with it. Since it doesn't require a change in SC - close it? Move it to a general techniques issue? Also, it seems related to the metadata SC that Liddy and Jutta volunteered to write/propose.

Propose: discuss. assign an action item to follow-up with Liddy and Jutta about metadata.

Issue 937 - Examples for Guideline 1.1

Comment provides examples/ideas for the level 3 criterion in the March 2004 WD, "A text document (for example, a movie script) is provided that includes all important visual information, dialogue, and other important sounds."

Propose: include these examples in the General techniques. No change to guideline.

Issue 1079 - Clarification of text

Reviewer suggests modifying "Text-alternatives are explicitly associated with non-text content..." to "Each instance of non-text content has at least one text alternative that is explicitly associated with it...."

Propose: Discuss. Not sure it is better.

Issue 1207 - clarify that text description is not required

The reviewer requests that we make it clear that a description is not neede for every image. Suggests that we might provide clarification in the definitions of "text description" or "text equivalent." Think this is related to the definition of "text alternative" and that it relates to issue 587.

Propose: Closing issue 587 should close this issue.

Needs clarification from the reviewer

Issue 1080 - Image button alt text should contain same text as the image itself.

The reviewer writes (about the July 2004 draft),

For an image button containing text, the alt text should match the text in the image. SC 1a says that for graphical buttons, the text alternative should describe the purpose or function of the button. Does alt text that matches the text in the image button meet this success criteria?

The wording of SC 1a (now Level 1 Criterion #1) does not say, "describe" it says, "identify" the purpose or function. Believe that if the alt-text matches the text in the image, it will ususally meet the success criterion. There may be instances where more information is necessary if markup doesn't help give clue about purpose and if the image text is unclear.

Propose: Ask Andi if she feels this needs a clarification and if so, what needs to change? If no change proposed, close the issue.

Issue 1104 - NOEMBED not widely used or recognized.

Need clarification from Andi. The link after the SC is, "How to provide text alternatives for all non-text content." Is this a General techniques issue or HTML Techniques?

Issue 1138 - Higher priority for text alternatives for non-text content?

The reviewer says,

the Guidelines should place special emphasis, in the form of elevated prioritisation, on the following matters already covered:

- the need to provide a text equivalent for every non-text element

Text alternatives are Level 1, except for a collated text transcript (level 3). Need clarification from reviewer.

Propose: I have an action to request clarification from the reviewer.


Issue 895 - Propose solution for text alternatives of accessible non-text content

Major elephant. Related to baseline discussion.

Issue 1075 - Text alternatives that are not explicitly associated are sometimes okay

Reviewer says, "if a technology doesn't support explicitly associating a text alternative with non-text content, it should still be conforming to provide a text equivalent another way."

Potential elephant. Needs discussion and likely someone to volunteer to draft a proposal.