W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > January to March 2000

RE: Tool Tip behavior

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 12:54:17 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: "Bruce Bailey" <bbailey@clark.net>
Cc: WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
aloha, bruce!

you wrote:
Philosophically, I think the ALT content should parallel the IMG content.If 
the graphic is a little cryptic, so should be the ALT text!  I am grateful 
that TITLE gives me an appropriate place to add a little more content.  Is 
it my fault that the current crop of browsers don't implement this 
well?  Visually, the IMGs line up nicely and look like buttons.  I wanted 
to try and convey this with the ALT content, hence my use of "Jump to".  I 
will sometimes use ALT like "DORS Logo", but that is NOT what is pictured 
in this case!

no, it is not your fault that TITLE isn't widely or consistently supported, 
but literally reproducing graphic content as ALT text, does not, in both my 
personal and professional estimation, constitute a very wise 
practice...  consider this real life case taken from an educational 
institution's web site, which has since been completely overhauled:

on a page there appeared 3 graphically defined hyperlinks  one of them 
contained a picture of a rose, another a snowflake, and the third a 
maple-leaf....  following the link with which the graphic of the rose had 
been associated, led to information about the spring semester; following 
the snowflake link, led to information on the winter session, and the leaf 
link led to information about the fall semester...

the links were ALT texted in accordance with your philosophy -- one was 
ALT-texted "rose", the second "snowflake", and the third "leaf turning from 
green to red"

now, such ALT text accurately described the graphic for which they were 
defined, but what information does that convey to the user?  absolutely 

moreover, what of users whose primary means of accessing content (such as 
those using robust text-based solutions, such as NetTamer or Lynx32), for 
whom TITLE text is either unavailable, or available only in limited 
circumstances (such as when viewing a list of links)?

it is insufficient to simply say -- well, the graphics are pretty damn 
cryptic, so why shouldn't the ALT text follow suit?  it is a question of 
general usability, as well as accessibility...   and the two goals -- 
accessibility and usability -- are often quite inter-related...

in closing, you asked, quote:
In short, if the MD TAP button graphic isn't sufficient, is a better choice 
not to have the link at all?

no, bruce, you're missing my point...   the aesthetics of your site are up 
to you -- if you like the way the buttons look, by all means, keep them, 
but realize that if you do, their function and purpose may not be readily 
apparent to anyone, especially someone whose experience of the web is, 
perforce, visually oriented and who may rely on iconic information...  and, 
finally, since there is inconsistency between browsers on how (or whether) 
they handle TITLE and ALT when both are applied to a graphically defined 
hyperlink, wouldn't it be wiser to err on the side of caution?

He that lives on Hope, dies farting
      -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
    WebMaster and Minister of Propaganda, VICUG NYC
Received on Wednesday, 23 February 2000 12:46:10 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 13 October 2015 16:21:07 UTC