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RE: ALT tag preferences

From: Mike Scott <mscott@msfw.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001 14:12:24 -0500
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I ran a quick test with JAWS 3.71.36 (beta) and IBM Home Page Reader 3.0
(both set to their default verbosity settings). I was a little surprized at
the results:

(1) no alt - neither read anything
(2) alt="" (null) - neither read anything
(3) alt=" " (space) - neither read anything
(4) alt="*" - JAWS read nothing, HPR read "asterisk"
(5) alt="--" - JAWS read nothing, HPR read "dot" while its Text View showed
(6) alt="bullet" - both read "bullet"

I am very surprized at JAWS' behavior. I'm almost certain that in earlier
versions, alt="*" produced "asterisk" or "star". With this version I
couldn't get it to read "*", even with punctuation verbosity set to "all".
I'm not sure if this is intended behavior or a bug in this beta version.
Anybody else getting different results? Does the height/width of the image
make any difference?

One fairly minor issue with alt=" " (space) is that visual browsers will
show the space character as a "tool tip" (small yellow box with nothing in
it) when te mouse is hovered over the image, which is not a big deal, but
slightly annoying. It would seem like alt="" (null) would be the most
appropriate to represent null content.


-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of David Poehlman
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2001 10:35 AM
To: Tyler Kendall; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: ALT tag preferences

Hi Tyler and welcome to the fray.

On your first question, this is a bug in jaws and we hope it will be
addressed soon.  you could use alt=" " that's a space in quotes for
those who didn't catch it but I would dis recommend any characters to
indicate "spacers".

On the second question, here again, we have a problem with jfw so you
may have to use "--" that's two dashes for those who need it described,
because for some reason, jfw doesn't like one character alt tags.  The
rule of thumb here is the alt should provide the function not a

Thanks and again welcome!

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tyler Kendall" <tyler_kendall@ncsu.edu>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2001 10:32 AM
Subject: ALT tag preferences

Hello all,

    First, as I'm new to the list, a brief introduction: My name is
Tyler Kendall and I'm in charge of providing accessible web design
education, consulting, and review at NC State University.  "Hello!"

    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
'spacer.gif').  The new access board guide to Section 508
(http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm) is the first
place I've seen this officially recommended - though I recall seeing it
used once or twice in examples in other guides.
    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
approval.  Is there a better way to provide users of screen readers a
solution here?
    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?


Tyler Kendall
Web Accessibility Specialist
North Carolina State University
Voice: 919-513-4087
Fax: 919-513-1893
Email: tyler_kendall@ncsu.edu
Received on Thursday, 28 June 2001 15:04:33 UTC

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