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Re: Alternative text

From: Andy Mabbett <andy_mabbett@birmingham.gov.uk>
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2006 13:20:29 +0000
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <OF7912D5AE.5E259725-ON80257222.0048748E-80257222.004949F0@birmingham.gov.uk>

Matt Lee <matt.lee@nhs.net> wrote on 10/11/2006 12:10:32:

> Is there any information that is not set in stone regarding alternative
> text for images, (ie. alt attributes)?

> Currently, there seem to be a few different schools of thought on the
> subject:-

> * All images, besides 'spacer' images and other such images that are not
> meant to be seen should have alternative text. All images, regardless
> should have a alt attribute, though it may be blank.

> * Images that are content, links, contain text (ie. a company logo) or
> are in other ways used for interaction should have alternative text, but
> images that are used on a page of text, such as a photo of a member of
> staff on a profile page, would not have alternative text as they are
> decorative.

> Can anyone point me in the right direction on this, as we seem to be
> struggling to understand this.

The "alt" text provides an "alternative" to the image. Imagine you are 
reading the web page to someone else, over the phone. When you reach the 
image, what would you say? If the image is a picture of some words, you'd 
read them out. If it's a decorative image, you'd ignore it.

See also <http://ppewww.ph.gla.ac.uk/~flavell/alt/alt-text.html> which is 
about the best page on the subject, that I know of. The "howlers" are 
hilarious.

And remember: one of your most important classes of user - search engine 
spiders - can only see the alt text, not the images themselves!

-- 
Andy Mabbett


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Received on Friday, 10 November 2006 13:27:21 UTC

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