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Re: Is an empty alt attribute ok when...

From: Patrick H. Lauke <redux@splintered.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 17:47:03 +0100
Message-ID: <4284DA07.3010604@splintered.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

David Balch wrote:

> I respectfully disagree :-) "Photograph of the Mona Lisa" is only equivalent
> if you know what that painting looks like.

And I disagree with your disagreement ;-)

Knowing what the painting looks like is not important in this context. 
If the page was about the actual content of the painting (a detailed 
study of its elements, for instance) then yes. Otherwise, where do you 
draw the line? You would need to also describe to me what the background 
looks like exactly, if the sky is overcast, what she's wearing, etc). 
Again, ask yourself *why* you're including the actual image...what 
purpose does it serve? The ALT should be reflective of the purpose, and 
not describe the image itself (unless, again, illustrating the actual 
features of the image are the reason why you're including it).

> and the image is an aid to comprehension. Reinforcement rather
> than fluff, if you will.

But when you can't see the image, it only becomes repetition of text, 
and does not necessarily aid comprehension.

> you percieved it as decorative,
> whereas I intended it to place the viewer "in the picture".

Arguably the image itself is not the content then, but rather you're 
trying to convey a certain mood or intangible quality...which, I'd say, 
should be reflected in other non visual parts of your page (the "tone" 
of your writing, language used, etc - in your case, you are already 
mentioning the "eating noodles with chopsticks" idea in your text, for 
instance) and therefore again the image becomes a mere accessory, and 
is, in my mind, not relevant.

Patrick H. Lauke
re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
[latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
www.splintered.co.uk | www.photographia.co.uk
Received on Friday, 13 May 2005 16:47:03 UTC

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