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

From: Michael S Elledge <elledge@msu.edu>
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2007 09:53:21 -0400
Message-ID: <4704F051.2010703@msu.edu>
To: 'Tim' <dogstar27@optushome.com.au>
CC: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>, 'WAI Interest Group list' <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hi Tim--

My understanding is that the separation of presentation from content 
using CSS should result in your using CSS images solely for aesthetics 
and not conveying information. In other words, images that contain 
meaningful content need to have a description using the alt tag, images 
that don't contain meaningful content should have "" in the alt tag, and 
images provided through CSS don't need an alt tag because they by 
definition don't contain meaningful information.

If I am incorrect about this, everyone, please feel free to let me know.

As for your frustration with the Australian government, I think we all 
share your pain, though perhaps not as directly. The need to provide 
accessible sites and software seems to be gaining more awareness, but 
it's happening more slowly than I would ever have expected.

Mike Elledge

John Foliot wrote:
> Tim wrote:
>   
>> The Target ruling on ALT tags seems be a little judicially expedient
>> and not the full picture on alt tags or accessibility.
>>     
>
> Tim,
>
> Please be very clear, there is yet a "ruling" in the Target case, outside of
> the fact that the suit has now been elevated to a class-action suit, which
> *does* up the ante somewhat.  However, one of the key considerations in the
> case is the fact that many of the images on the Target site lack suitable or
> "accessible" alternative text.
>
> I made my comments mostly in light of the fact that currently the HTML5
> Working Group are suggesting that in the next generation language images
> could be considered "conformant" even without alt text "...under certain
> circumstances". [http://blog.whatwg.org/omit-alt]  I have been arguing that
> even suggesting that this is a consideration opens the door for misuse and
> abuse, as it becomes a subjective consideration by the developer, and while
> the HTML5 WG are trying very hard to explain their reasoning, it ultimately
> replaces one bad situation with an even worse situation (IMHO).
>
> If the Target.com case finds for the plaintiffs, then the message being sent
> out is that within the discussion of legal requirements, images will require
> alt text, irregardless of a specification that suggests otherwise.  Thus,
> while there might be a technical ability to do so, legal mandates will
> insist that authors not take advantage of the technical ability, thus making
> that aspect of the specification moot.
>
> I'm not 100% sure what the rest of your posting was trying to convey,
> although we all know that you remain angry with "the system" in Australia.
>
> JF
>
>
>   
>> 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
>> http://www.hereticpress.com
>>     
>
>
>
>
>
>   

Received on Thursday, 4 October 2007 13:53:23 GMT

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