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RE: alt text seen or not?

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000 09:53:33 -0500
To: <kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000c01bf6356$1f540300$1aac66a7@151877>

Your quotation below did not alarm me at all when I first read it (in
context) in your excellent article in print.

> "Making a Web site accessible does not have to stifle its artistic
> presentation or professional look. The design and presentation will not
> suffer if you follow one simple rule: Create your site with text-only
> pages first. When you are sure that it is complete and accessible, then
> add the images and other design touches. Your site then will be
> accessible to everyone."

It now strikes me as dangerously counter productive because it reinforces
the idea and practice of "text-only" pages.  If I were just starting out, I
would take this to mean that one should create the "disabled" page first,
then move on to the "real" page, leaving the text-only page in place.  This
would, of course, mean that the text-only page gets left in place even as
the mainstream pages are evolving with new content and features.  My
(flawed) thinking would very likely be something like:
<Q>I have already done the work to create a "text-only" page, so I might as
well use it.  I don't want to have wasted my time or throw out anything.  By
definition, "text-only" pages are accessible.  I've heard that the disabled
prefer text-only pages.  I don't want to risk messing anything up, so I will
leave a copy of that in place (and link to it), while now I work on the fun
graphical page, which is really the only version I care about anyway!</Q>

I wish you had written something like:
"Create your pages without graphics, JavaScript, CSS, or other
embellishments first.  When you are sure that they are complete and
functional and include all the intended content, then add images and other
design touches.  As long as you don't take anything out, your site will then
be accessible to everyone."

N.B., The rule above would even cover the addition of an ALT-free image (or
image map).  The evolved page might violate P1 WCAG checkpoints, but since
the content is still there in a text-oriented modality, the page *would*
still be accessible.

With either version, the above advice does nothing to help authors
understand what they have to do to MAINTAIN accessibility as existing pages
get changed with new content and features.

The point has been brought up on this list before that the term "text-only"
is ill-defined.  Probably, those of who understand the issues, should
endeavor to avoid the term in favor of more explicit language -- unless we
are saying "don't do it"!

Just my 2.

-- Bruce Bailey
Received on Thursday, 20 January 2000 09:55:31 UTC

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