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Use of ALT texts in IMGs

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 1999 10:22:18 -0500
Message-ID: <3836BC74.CD7570B3@clark.net>
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I recently came across this gem from Alan Flavell.   I don't think it is
that new, but it was last updated 25 October 1999.
"Use of ALT texts in IMGs" at URL:

In particular, he says I am wrong when I use code like:
ALT="Photo of building" and ALT="DORS logo".

His closest counter example is <Q>ALT="Picture of Hotel"</Q> which he
suggests should be replaced with something like <Q>ALT="The Pines Hotel,
a fine old stone building in extensive grounds"</Q>.

I don't think there is a need for me to be more descriptive.  Alan might
say this is because I have not given enough thought as to why the
picture is there.  Do I want, for example, people to appreciate that the
building looks new and modern and inviting?  Um, I just have pictures
(where I can get them) for visual interest.  I have taken care to make
sure they are small (< 20K), so this "eye candy" should not be too much
of a hardship.  I guess I figure people might recognize the building the
building if they happen to drive by.  Alan seems to argue that, since
(as the author) I feel the pictures are primarily decorational, I should
use ALT="".  Is he right?

On a similar vein, I try never to use the words "picture" or "image" in
my alt text, since the term is ambiguous.  I prefer "photo" or "drawing"
or "logo".  Alan argues that this is wrong and that, for example.
<Q>alt="ACME Corp logo"</Q> should be replaced by either
<Q>alt="ACME"</Q> or <Q>alt=""</Q> depending on circumstances.  I
disagree with this, since the addition of one or two more (short) words
gives additional information to the text-only browser.  Am I misusing

FYI, the feature articles at the Web Design Group site are all good

Bruce Bailey
Received on Saturday, 20 November 1999 10:22:45 UTC

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