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Re: [html4all] New issue: IMG section of HTML5 draft contradicts WCAG 1 & WCAG 2 (draft)

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2008 19:28:36 +0300
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1AB3E8FE-3200-473F-BA48-58FCDE712B49@iki.fi>
To: HTML4All <list@html4all.org>

On Apr 14, 2008, at 17:11, Harry Loots wrote:
>> Henri wrote
>>> So far nobody has demonstrated the necessity of making @alt  
>>> optional.
>> Saying 'nobody' is conveniently ignoring for example these two  
>> messages:
>> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Apr/0273.html
>> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Apr/0322.html
> i hardly see why these two articles may be quoted as demonstrating  
> why @alt
> should be optional? Unless the author thinks the opinion of one  
> speaks for all?

One is more than nobody.

It would sure be convenient if one opinion spoke for all. :-)

> I remain firmly entrenched in the camp of _keeping_ @alt mandatory.

Would you still, if the leading HTML5 validator integrated an alt text  
and image review tool in addition to the validation function? (The  
tool would show the images from a Web pages in three categories:  
images with no textual alternative available, images marked as purely  
decorative and the rest with images and alternatives side-by-side.)

I think developing such a tool would be the most productive way to  
move forward on this issue. However, such output would itself not have  
alternative text for the images available and would itself not be  
accessible to people who cannot review contents of bitmaps. It would  
be pretty ironic if the syntax definition of HTML5 prevented a  
validator with such a value-added feature from being self-validating.

In general, I think getting better software written is more productive  
than being entrenched to the status quo.

> This picture has changed - the majority now regularly uses tools to  
> check
> X/HTML validity and WCAG compliance. And some will no longer go  
> without
> checking religiously!

I think it isn't healthy to position a validator as an object of  
religious worship. People shouldn't cause information loss to please  
the spirits of the validator, for example. You really need to be able  
to articulate the reasons for using a validators on their merits  
instead of making it matter of faith and dogma.

> This is relevant to the argument only insofar as the mindset of the  
> majority
> of developers have changed from optional to mandatory (and i'm  
> referring to
> professionals, as opposed to someone who's setting up a photo album  
> for the
> family to enjoy).

Software used in a family setting is often written by professionals,  
though. Also, family photo albums are part of the Web, so HTML5 needs  
to cater for that use case among other things.

> But, so what if this someone leaves the alt out; and what if
> the software inserts alt="none supplied" or whatever pixels we wish  
> it to push
> out... 'none supplied' is still more meaningful to a blind person  
> than nothing
> at all - at least they will know there is an image;

While I don't expect AT to become AI-complete, software can do better  
than conveying "none supplied" when none is supplied. (What I said  
above about getting better software written especially means not  
accepting the status quo of AT in general and JAWS in particular as  
something to get entrenched in.)

Henri Sivonen
Received on Monday, 14 April 2008 16:29:24 UTC

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