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Fw: ALT text project

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@home.com>
Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2001 11:28:40 -0400
Message-ID: <007b01c127fa$75be5640$2cf60141@mtgmry1.md.home.com>
To: "wai-ig list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

----- Original Message -----
From: "piw101" <piw101@ONETEL.NET.UK>
Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2001 6:06 AM
Subject: ALT text project

Dear Members,

>I am an Msc student of Computer Science at the University of York
>under the supervision of Dr A.D.N. Edwards.

I would like to ask for a few minutes of your time to help with my
project on web accessibility. I would like you to visit a web site I
set up and then answer some questions (below) on it. The site was
developed using Internet Explorer and Jaws version 3.7, but it has also
been tested on Netscape.

All web accessibility guidelines advocate the use of 'ALT texts' for
on web pages. The question is to what that text should contain. I have
drafted some guidelines and suggested conventions for these texts and I
would like some feedback on their viability.

The web site is a mock-up of an on-line bookshop. It is fictional, so
information on it cannot be relied on and you cannot buy any books from
Also most of the links are not operational (e.g. you cannot actually put
anything into your shopping basket). As with genuine retail sites, there
quite a lot of pictures and these have all been given ALT texts. It is
perception of the usefulness of these texts which I am interested in.

The conventions I have used are:
* A logo is represented by the text (e.g. the company name) appearing in
square brackets, e.g. [IBM]
* Navigation icons are marked by the ALT text starting with a tilde
(i.e. ~)
* Bullets are given the ALT text *
* Image links have a descriptive ALT, followed by ~ destination. For
example - ALT="Harry Potter's Head. ~ Harry Potter Page" indicates a
picture of Harry Potter which links to a fuller page describing Harry
Potter products
* The size of some image files is indicated in their ALT texts. This
follows existing recommendations for ALT texts.
* 'D-tags' which lead to fuller textual descriptions are used in some
* Where it is imperative that the user reads all the ALT text, this is
marked as '100%'

The site can be found at <http://www.geocities.com/piw100/> and the
bookshop is called Howl's Books.

There is a questionnaire below to guide your responses, but
I would be extremely grateful for any feedback. My e-mail address is
>piw101@onetel.net.uk or just reply to this message.

Please note that all information you provide will be treated as strictly
confidential. The results of the study will appear in a report which
be publicly available, but you will NOT be identifiable in any such
publication. If you would like to know more about the results of the
and to receive a copy of the report, please indicate so in your reply.

Thank you very much, in anticipation,



>1. Software:

a) Which browser or browsers do you use most?
b) Which screen reader do you use?
c) Do you use speech, braille or both?

>2. Use and experience:

a) Approximately how many hours per week do you access the web?

>b) How would you rate your expertise with using the internet - Expert /
>Above Average / Average/ Beginner?
>3. Where a logo appears, I have enclosed the name of the company within
>square brackets.
>a) Do you feel that a logo should be differentiated from the text?
>b) Do you feel a logo is an important indicator of the page's official

c) Is the use of square brackets a good way of signalling a logo?

d) If not, what might be a better indicator of a logo: The word 'logo'
an ALT text? Or (L)? Or something else?

4. I have tried to differentiate between image links and navigation

>a) Does this use of ~ make an image easier to recognise as a navigation
>b) If not, can you suggest an alternative marker?

5. Image links have a descriptive ALT, followed by ~ destination.

>a) Is this a clear navigation path when using a screen reader?
>b) Is it useful to know where an image links to via the ALT tag, or
>this information always be replaced with a text link?
>6. Following existing guidelines for visual browsers I have included
>information about the size of images in the
ALT texts

>on the bestsellers page (www.geocities.com/piw100/howlsbest.html
<http://www.geocities.com/piw100/howlsbest.html>). Sizes
>are enclosed within curly brackets.
>a) Is this information of any interest?
>b) Can the size of the image be distinguished from the rest of the ALT
>7. Within the site there are some cases of D tags. Again, this is
>indicated by {D} within the ALT.
>a) Do you prefer D tags to longdesc tags ?
>b) Is the {D} notation a clear indicator of a link to further
>8. I have used {100%} to indicate where it is essential that the full
>description of an image be read.
>a) Are ALT tags overloaded by this information?
>b) Can you suggest a more concise notation?
>a) Should animated gifs which alternate between images be given
>ALT texts or be combined in one text?
>b) Should their 'type' be differentiated from static images?
>10. Ideally, I would like to replace all the ASCII notations for
>types of images with non-speech sounds. I would indicate whether an
>was a link, navigation icon or logo by a non-speech sound, whilst still
>providing an ALT text description.
>a) What is your opinion of this proposal?
>11. Do you have any further comments?

12. Would you like to hear more about the results of this study, and to
receive a copy of the final report?

Thank you very much for your assistance.
Received on Saturday, 18 August 2001 11:28:49 UTC

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