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Re: ALT tag preferences

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001 08:32:25 -0700
Message-Id: <a05100308b760fd6bcb31@[]>
To: Tyler Kendall <tyler_kendall@ncsu.edu>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
At 10:32 AM -0400 2001/6/28, Tyler Kendall wrote:
>     I'm hoping to get a consensus of what people feel is the 'best
>practice' regarding the use of ALT tags for spacer images.  I have been
>recommending using ALT=' ' and giving the file a meaningful name (like
>     While this approach seems the best I've come across, I'm not
>entirely pleased with it.  JAWS, the screen reader with which I have the
>most experience, treats these images the same as images with no ALT tag
>what-so-ever, and in many ways this seems to be a trick to get Bobby

By images with no ALT text whatsoever do you mean it just says "IMAGE"
or the like?

I don't think it's simply a case of "getting Bobby approval"; I think
that in theory a screenreader should allow some method for skipping
the image if it's considered null content by the author.  I believe
the easiest way to do that currently is to use alt=" " (that's alt
equals quote space quote) or alt="" (alt equals quote quote).  In
my opinion, both of those should give the same results, which means
that -- apparently -- some screenreaders are broken according to
my definition of what "should work."

>Is there a better way to provide users of screen readers a
>solution here?

Well, you could make a chart of all the different screenreaders, ask
the user which one they're using, and deliver up a custom interface
which Does The Right Thing for that screenreader.  (I'm not joking
here!  This is what Reef EveryWare nee Edapta is all about.)

>     On a similar note, I've been recommending the use of ALT='bullet'
>for graphic list bullets (when people seem unwilling to use the HTML
>list markup), but I'm wondering, does ALT='*' has much support?

It's important to note that ALT text is used not only by people who
can't see, but also by people who use non-graphical browsers (such
as Lynx) or who surf with images turned off.  "Bullet" tends to be a
rather icky choice of ALT text for those users.


Kynn Bartlett <kynn@reef.com>
Technical Developer Liaison
Reef North America
Accessibility - W3C - Integrator Network
Tel +1 949-567-7006
Received on Thursday, 28 June 2001 11:38:17 UTC

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