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Re: Creating accessible tables for layout and data

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@home.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 07:45:53 -0500
Message-ID: <004f01c1a98c$0dfa2f20$6f8c3244@cp286066a>
To: "Jim Byrne" <j.byrne@gcal.ac.uk>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
in summary because this has been covered before, alt is not description,
it is substitution.  if the images have any meaning at all, put the
meaning there.  if not, use alt="" or alt=" " and there is even some
debate over which of these is best.  An alternative approach would be to
put a string of characters such as alt="|||||" to cover them up really
well, but this could get tedious.
Happy reading.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim Byrne" <j.byrne@gcal.ac.uk>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2002 7:28 AM
Subject: Re: Creating accessible tables for layout and data

on 30/1/02 12:01 pm, Jouni Heikniemi at jth@dns.mikrobitti.fi wrote:

> On Tue, 29 Jan 2002, Jim Byrne wrote:
>> I am eager to get some feedback - I am sure not everyone will agree
with my
>> conclusions.
> I only quickly skimmed through the text, and I agree mostly. It's good
> see an accessibility article that is ready to accept compromises with
> HTML tables versus CSS dilemma.
> However, I find it quite amusing that a fine accessibility article
> with considerable expertise fails in one basic way: the purely
> images have descriptive alt texts. After the first heading "Table
> Manners", my Lynx says "Street Sign: Stop". Further down, there's one
> like even more: "These data tables generally have headings along the
> or down the side, or both. Pink flowers". Yeah :-)
> Best regards,
> Jouni
Thanks for your feedback Jouni,

You are right the pictures are purely decorative. I am trying to get
right; are you saying that decorative graphics should not have
alt texts? I take it you are not - but pointing out to me that I could
my alt tags to add more appropriate descriptions. Am I picking you up

One of the problems I think about when adding alt tags to photos that
purely decorative is the problem of how to make them short. I could put
words 'decorative photo:' in front of all my alt tag descriptions but
would probably extend the text beyond the width of the picture - which
far as I know can make the alt tags unreadable in browsers with graphics
turned off.

I can use the alt tag to give a short description and the title to
something a little longer - and in addition use the longdesc attribute
provide even more info.

I want to get it right - so if it is clear to you how what the best
is please point me in the right direction.

Jim Byrne Project Director, The Making Connections Unit, Glasgow
University, Glasgow G4 OBA, 0141 331 3893

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Received on Wednesday, 30 January 2002 07:45:57 UTC

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