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RE: Use of ALT texts in IMGs

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1999 15:51:20 -0500 (EST)
To: Rich Caloggero <rich@accessexpressed.net>
cc: "'Bruce Bailey'" <bbailey@clark.net>, "'wai list'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.20.9911221549300.6569-100000@tux.w3.org>
I think this is a case where it is worth making use of both linked
descriptions and functional replacements. I agree, as someone who generally
browses plain text (using lynx - if I decide I want to look at the image I
can, and I do every so often), that the functional equivalent is good when it
is short.

Cheers

Charles McCN

On Mon, 22 Nov 1999, Rich Caloggero wrote:

  [Comments are embeded in the text below]
  
  On Saturday, November 20, 1999 10:53 AM, Bruce Bailey 
  [SMTP:bbailey@clark.net] wrote:
  >
  >
  > 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:
  > http://ppewww.ph.gla.ac.uk/~flavell/alt/alt-text.html
  >
  > 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?
  > In my opinion, unless the site is about "pictures", this description is 
  too verbose. I certaily won't recognize the building in a drive by... Looks 
  like a great candidate for a null descriptor!
  
  >
  > 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
  > ALT?
  Again, I don't care whether the image came from a photo, a crayon drawing, 
  an oil painting, etc. If there is any relevant info there, just tell me 
  with as few words as possible. If the logo is echoed by a title which is 
  already present in text, then just make the alt tag null. For example, if 
  you have your "ACME Corp logo" image above a title "ACME Corporation", then 
  in your representation you would hear "ACME Corp logo ACME Corporation", 
  which is redundant. I've seen this type of thing out there more than once.
  
  Disclaimer: I'm totally blind, never having seen anything at all in my 
  life, not even light. My perspective may thus be quite different than 
  someone who has seen or can see some at present. Please do not take these 
  comments as other than simply my opinion. I'd sure like to know what others 
  think, however.
  
  					Rich Caloggero
  

--Charles McCathieNevile            mailto:charles@w3.org
phone: +1 617 258 0992   http://www.w3.org/People/Charles
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative    http://www.w3.org/WAI
MIT/LCS  -  545 Technology sq., Cambridge MA, 02139,  USA
Received on Monday, 22 November 1999 15:51:23 GMT

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