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Question on WCAG Techniques Example

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 14:41:33 -0400
Message-Id: <199905211843.OAA15800@smtp-gw2.vma.verio.net>
To: <wai-wcag-editor@w3.org>
Greetings,

To whom does this email address go?

I am following up on a question I posted to the WAI ER IG.
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-er-ig/1999May/0041.html

The current "Techniques for WCAG 1.0" document has the example of 
> my poem requires a big space<IMG src="10pttab.gif"
alt="&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;">here
http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-TECHS-19990505/#spacer-images

I understand that this is a depreciated example, but is it an example of
ACCEPTABLE html code?  I am confused by the caption which reads that:
> Authors should not use spaces for the value of "alt" to
>  prevents [sic] the words from running together when the image
>  is not loaded.
Am I correct in interpreting that the implied lesson is something to the
effect that "Non breaking spaces  (&nbsp;) can be used instead"?

As it reads now, the example would appear to be of code that is NOT
acceptable.  This is, of course, odd since "counter examples" are not
otherwise used in this document.

I found an older version of this page at URL:
http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/wai-gl-techniques-19980918.html#spacer-images
The caption here (the same example is use) is much more readable and clear.
> In this example, an image is used to create a carefully defined space
between words or graphics.
> "White space" alt-text is used to prevent the words from running together
when the image is not loaded: 
But then the accompanying text explicitly allows
> "white space" (alt=" ") alt-text
when the newer document explicitly forbids this!  I am all the more
confused because older document goes so far as to say (with a citation and
example no less) that spaces and &nbsp; are logically the same as far as
the content of ALT tags (and other CDATA) go!

Please clarify this for me.  Please also make the clarification in the next
version of the Techniques document!

Bruce Bailey, DORS Webmaster
http://www.dors.state.md.us/
410/554-9211
Received on Friday, 21 May 1999 14:43:37 GMT

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