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No ALT place to go from CSS background images. The frustrating Australian situation

From: Tim <dogstar27@optushome.com.au>
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2007 08:51:07 +1000
Message-Id: <6a80a2397d0d81fda44183c71556e8b6@optushome.com.au>
To: WAI Interest Group list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

The Target ruling on ALT tags seems be a little judicially expedient  
and not the full picture on alt tags or accessibility.
If you do the right thing and separate html markup from presentational 
CSS you will be trapped with no possibility of adding alt tags.
The downside of using CSS images is that there are no alt or longdesc 
tags possible from background CSS stylesheet images!

A screen reader might ignore the CSS, but if it is legally required 
that alt tags must be included for images, where does that leave CSS 
background presentational images?

For example, all the header graphics in all my pages are animated 
background gif files from CSS stylesheets, seven different ones. Have a 
go at me for the colors etc. but they are based on theories and the 
incidence of color blindness. No alt tags are possible for these CSS 
animated gif images. When I asked for advice and criticism from the WSG 
on this issue there was absolute silence.

Page accessibility and page indexing by bots could be affected by CSS 
only images, even though that is what the CSS should be good at, 
without some page html, it seems all dressed up with no "alt" place to  

I have been following the Target case and have preserved some 
screenshots, but I am frustrated that in Australian such a case would 
not proceed without  a major change of heart by our institutions and 
groups who should know better, like the Web Standards Group WSG who do 
not welcome any criticism or advocates for legal change. I was 
suspended from the WSG for comments to a religious critic of my reviews 
of Australian university websites including some members of this group 
who do not support any legal advocacy for the blind, as they stated to 
me in suspending me, we like to "encourage rather than criticize" and 
that "people like me do more damage than good". Yes I do criticize and 
I also do not receive any training funding, I work for free on behalf 
of blind Australians and the WSG has vilified me in public for it.

The UK have a body advocating standards RNIB, the USA has the NFB, but 
Australian has groups pandering to government bodies for training 
funds. The Olympics case in Australian was an exception that proves 
this rule. I had a blind person email me yesterday for help accessing 
the Australian Centrelink site, he is shut out of government services 
as well as most commercial websites. The Australian 1992 Disability 
Discrimination Act is a fairytale. Australian Law is an absolute 
fiction,  un-enforced and whistleblowers are vilified by groups like 
the WSG who should be supporting legal advocacy for change and 
We don't even have a Westminster democracy in Victoria, web standards 
are completely irrevelant to Australian governments and groups like the 
Web Standards Group support encouraging change, only if they can get 
funding from a government agency or university to provide training 
courses, they dismiss and vilify all critics.

Making a complaint to the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity 
HREOC about any aus.gov.au website is a waste of time. They will ask 
the Australian Government Information Management Office  for advice and 
AGIMO will say that any Australian government site is "near enough". 
But Gary Nairn the Australian special minister of state said "Australia 
is a leader in e-government"

I am jealous of the USA case and UK advocates for standards and I am 
frustrated with the capitulation and acceptance of low standards in 
Australia. Such a ruling as in the Target case would help many 
Australians access government online services, but there is no interest 
in legal advocacy at all.


On 04/10/2007, at 3:58 AM, John Foliot - Stanford Online Accessibility 
Program wrote:

> In light of the fact that a judge today ruled that the suit against
> Target.com can become a class action suit, and that one of the key
> complaints is that many of the images do not have alt text, or 
> appropriate
> alt text...
> This writer wonders aloud what the judge would think about sites that
> deliberately did not include alt text, or did not programmatically 
> allow for
> the inclusion of alt text...
> 	"The court's decision today makes clear that people with
> disabilities no longer can be treated as second-class citizens in any 
> sphere
> of mainstream life. This ruling will benefit hundreds of thousands of
> Americans with disabilities." - Larry Paradis, Disability Rights 
> Advocates
> http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2191625,00.asp
> 	"All e-commerce businesses should take note of this decision and
> immediately take steps to open their doors to the blind." - Dr. Marc 
> Maurer,
> president of the National Federation of the Blind.
> http://tinyurl.com/33jszq
> It would seem pretty fool-hardy to create an online application or 
> site that
> did not allow for the insertion of alt text; especially if the above 
> results
> in serious grief for Target.com.  A future spec might be conformant 
> without
> alt text, but a judge might still award damages; making the exercise
> theoretically moot.
> Score one for social engineering!
> JF
The Editor
Heretic Press
Received on Wednesday, 3 October 2007 22:51:19 UTC

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