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RE: more alt rant

From: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2008 11:52:58 -0700
To: <list@html4all.org>, <wai-xtech@w3.org>
Message-ID: <007301c8a961$142351c0$5a2e42ab@stanford.edu>

William Loughborough wrote:
> One problem is that our surmises of where the paths lead are
> inevitably flawed. 
> We thought we had it from start with the alt attribute. Any further
> tinkering may merely be a seductive way to introduce new
> disappointments. 
> If the intent to accessibilise is sacrificed with edge-case
> nitpicking, we can never get the results we are looking for.
> In essence it in fact "ain't broke" and to fix it in response to
> irresponsible exception-citations is simply wrong.


As many will attest, I have been fighting tooth and nail for some time on
this issue, but sadly, it *is* broke (and my friend, it took me forever to
get to that, and with considerable pain I might add).  @alt alone is not
/the/ answer - it cannot be a magic token for all that ails, even if it *is*
the best solution more often than not.  @alt today can be restrictive, and
is currently abused as often (or perhaps more often) than it is used
properly.  We need to acknowledge that if we are to really improve things. 

There is no doubt that the current spec takes the wrong route in justifying
no @alt - the scenarios provided are bogus and can be shot down quite easily
- really in fact they already have been.  None-the-less we are faced with a
fundamental problem: sometimes <img> is all we have.  So the real question
is "then what"?  The current suggestion from HTML WG is incomplete, and as
has also been pointed out, it is not within the scope of their charter to
define or decide web accessibility issues: the W3C already has 'experts' in
the form of other Working Groups to address these points.

What we need is positive steps forward, not entrenched ideals at all costs
(another painful realization) - and I might add that this acceptance is
required from both sides of the debate.  Yesterday I proposed some ideas -
alternatives to @alt as it were - in an effort to continue discussion moving
forward in that direction.  I do not claim to have all the answers, and most
of the ideas I attempted to summarize in my posting yesterday have emerged
in other posts (often left dangling). I also suggested a radical consequence
for non-conformant <img>, which to my surprise has not elicited one comment
despite it's extreme position. 

I really am passionate in wishing to ensure that the web is truly
accessible, but now is not the time to dig in, but rather to think outside
of the box and soar (third and final gestalt for JF).  Our real goal is to
improve the accessibility of <img> and it's kin, and at the end of the day
if we can come up with a better way, let's talk about that instead.

Received on Monday, 28 April 2008 18:53:41 UTC

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