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Re: alt text & punctuation - best practice?

From: david poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2004 08:42:13 -0400
Message-ID: <004701c4578d$30c971d0$6401a8c0@DAVIDPC>
To: "Rebecca Cox" <Rebecca.Cox@intergen.co.nz>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

see comments inline marked with *dp*.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Rebecca Cox" <Rebecca.Cox@intergen.co.nz>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2004 10:38 PM
Subject: alt text & punctuation - best practice?


Hi all,

I am working with some guidelines on alt text and just wanted to see
what people feel is current best practice with regard to adding
punctuation to force a pause - for example, in these situations what
would be the preferred technique?

1. For short alt text on an image which may or may not be a link:

Either, just the text, no extra punctuation:

<a href="news.html"><img src="news.gif" alt="News"></a>
*dp* extend the link to include a bit of text such as news before the
closing marker.  For alt texsts period which should be short at any rate, no
punctuation should be required at all.  Remember, some people are going to
be transcribing this stuff into braille or printing it out on a printer in
text form and also, the kiss factor, people will wonder as they look at this
stuff, what is this punctuation mark here for?  Most if not all user
agent/at combinations can let us know that we are looking at a "graphic"
"bmp" whatever they designate it as.

Or with full stop and space, like so:

<a href="news.html"><img src="news.gif" alt="News. "></a>

*dp* I would go on to say that an image in an href which has a fully marked
up container such as the above should be null alted because the text belongs
in the link, not in the alt and the link text should stand for the alt in
that there should be nothing in the image that conveys anything that cannot
be put into the link text.

2. For longer alt text which should read like a sentence:

Either:

<img src="w3.gif" alt="W3C leading the web to its full potential">
*dp* this is not a full sentence and an alt tag should never be a full
sentance.

Or:
*dp* no punctuation is required see above.

<img src="w3.gif" alt="W3C leading the web to its full potential. ">


3. For alt text on an image which functions as a section heading:

Either:

<h2><img src="about.gif" alt="About the council"></h2>

Or:

<h2><img src="about.gif" alt="About the council. "></h2>

*dp* Again, there are ways to find headings in current at and in some way
back so punctuation is not necessary.  Mark a heading up in the same way you
would mark the beginning of a section in a text book since it may be
brailled or printed.  We've lived quite well with headings and alt tags
being non differentiated in this way and this is the least of the auditory
inaccessibility we have to contend with.  Authors have enough to contend
with as it is and if you want to raise the hackles of the balancers, start
adopting things like this and you will.  This is not to say that hackles
should not be raised appropriately though.

g'day!
Cheers all,


Rebecca Cox
Production Designer

INTERGEN - Intelligent Business
Level 3, Intergen House, 44-52 The Terrace
PO Box 5428, Wellington, New Zealand
Received on Monday, 21 June 2004 08:42:37 UTC

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