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RE: Tool Tip behavior

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 19:02:39 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: "Bruce Bailey" <bbailey@clark.net>
Cc: WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
aloha, bruce!

the problem -- from my point of view -- with ALT text such as quote Jump to 
MD TAP unquote is that it doesn't communicate anything to anyone who is 
unaware of what MD TAP means...  that the hyperlink contains a TITLE is 
quite commendable, but since access to the information contained in a TITLE 
defined for a hyperlink is currently available to a user only under 
specific circumstances -- such as the ability to use a pointing device, use 
of screen-reader X with browser Y, use of a targeted user agent, etc. -- 
might it not make sense to use the same text for both the TITLE associated 
with the hyperlink _and_ the ALT text associated with the graphic?  there 
is, also, the issue of ensuring backwards compatibility, as well...

you wrote, quote
I have also gotten the advice (also from someone on this list, my apologies 
for forgetting who) that ALT associated with a link should use a verb.

whether or not you feel the need to use a verb in your ALT text is up to 
you...  what you should keep in mind is that -- in the case of a graphical 
hyperlink -- what is most important is providing the user with sufficient 
information so that he or she can make an informed decision as to whether 
or not to follow the link...

the only hard-and-fast rule when it comes to ALT text is one that i used to 
state as quote use common sense unquote, but which i have amended to quote 
use uncommon sense unquote

you also wrote, quote
The IMG in question is a take on their logo that incorporates the letters 
"M D" and "T A P".  The graphic gives no clue as to what "MD TAP" might be, 
so "Jump to MD TAP" seems like very appropriate ALT tag content to 
me.  Should ALT contain _more_ information than is contained by the image?

then perhaps the MD TAP logo isn't sufficient -- i emailed a sighted 
colleague who just happens to be a graphic artist who works as a commercial 
designer for a major american corporation, and asked her to take a look at 
the page...  while her comments on the page were overall positive (which is 
an achievement in and of itself, as she is a very harsh critic when it 
comes to web design) she told me that -- with the exception of the 
"Electronic Library" button -- the meaning of the buttons that appear at 
the bottom of the page are not readily apparent from their graphical 
content...  she emphasized that the buttons ALT texted Jump to MSDE and 
Jump to MD TAP, in particular,  were quite cryptic, and her first impulse 
was to point at them and hope for informative ALT text would pop up in the 
form of a ToolTip!  the letters MD TAP on the last button, she observed, 
are so small and indistinct that it was difficult for her to discern them 
-- a point that she underscored by admitting that she probably wouldn't 
have noticed that they were there if i hadn't told her (based on the 
information you provided me in your emessage) that they are there...  she 
also added that the color contrast on the Sailor button isn't very good, 
and that the word "Maryland" in the "Electronic Capital" button didn't 
separate well from the background...  all of which leads me to conclude 
that, perhaps, part of ensuring interoperability may be considering the 
following question -- is the meaning of this graphic readily apparent to 
anyone sees it?

bruce, by airing my comments on-list, i do not mean to denigrate your 
efforts -- on the contrary, the DORS page is quite an impressive piece of 
handiwork, for which you should be commended...  i only wish to provide you 
with constructive criticism, or -- at least -- a different "point of view",


Existentialism means that no one else can take a bath for you.
                                           -- Delmore Schwartz
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
    Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/
       VICUG NYC: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/vicug/
          Read 'Em & Speak: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/books/
Received on Tuesday, 22 February 2000 18:53:04 UTC

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