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Re: DRAFT response Re[2]: Request for PFWG WAI review of Omitting alt Attribute for Critical Content

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 10:06:56 -0500
Message-ID: <003b01c83107$2cf31780$0701a8c0@HANDS>
To: "Jason White" <jason@jasonjgw.net>, <wai-xtech@w3.org>

My personal take on this is there is markup and then there is publishing. 
Does any specification tell you what to put in an element?  Does for 
example, Microsoft say that if you are going to use this style, you have to 
type this in?  I fear we travel a slippery slope if we provide more than the 
tools for accessibly and validly marking up a publication no matter what the 
content or platform.  Fortunately or unfortunately, providing markup and 
giving guidance on how to implement it is best we can do.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jason White" <jason@jasonjgw.net>
To: <wai-xtech@w3.org>
Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2007 5:34 AM
Subject: Re: DRAFT response Re[2]: Request for PFWG WAI review of Omitting 
alt Attribute for Critical Content

On Mon, Nov 26, 2007 at 11:08:15AM -0500, Al Gilman wrote:
> I went through the roundabout dance of function and performance
> requirements because it is still appropriate for HTML5 to re-consider
> whether the best way to mark content that is "Decoration, Formatting,
> Invisible:" is with no @alt attribute at all or with an explicit null 
> string
> as the value of the @alt attribute.  Either of those choices, once
> offficially stated, is arguably a way to support what WCAG says.
> But "When is it appropriate to have meaningful content in @alt?" is
> addressed and settled by WCAG. HTML5 should stay out of that
> conversation other than to support the policy from WCAG with markup
> that enables readily-used techniques.

I concur with this analysis. It appears to follow that, once the means of
representing images that are decorative or artifacts of formatting has been
decided upon, the other option - omitted @alt or explicit null string - 
be syntactically invalid according to HTML 5.

Given the argument for an explicit null string, the above reasoning entails
that omission of @alt should not be allowed.

Alternatively, and this is a restatement of my comment above, if omitted 
signifies decoration or formatting, then an explicit null string should not 

If that's indeed the suggested position then I support it, with a preference
for permitting the explicit null string, and not permitting the omitted
Received on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 15:07:16 UTC

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