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Re: [html4all] some reflections on @alt usage

From: Gez Lemon <gez.lemon@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2008 20:17:14 +0100
Message-ID: <e2a28a920804281217v14dbb0b0k2d9ff06188325342@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Charles McCathieNevile" <chaals@opera.com>
Cc: HTML4All <list@html4all.org>, "W3C WAI-XTECH" <wai-xtech@w3.org>

On 28/04/2008, Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com> wrote:
> > Lowering the integrity requirements to make poor authoring tools
> > compliant doesn't address the issue that important images without
> > alternate text are inaccessible.
> >
>
>  I am not proposing lowering the requirements on poorly-designed authoring
> tools. They should be castigated like crazy for not making it easy and
> friendly to include alt text. I happen to include My.Opera.com in the list
> of things that need to be improved.
>
>  The problem is poor advice to tool developers (which we need to get out of
> the spec), and more so lazy authors. Unfortunately, tools cannot always
> force authors to do the right thing, and the question is what they should do
> in that case.

These are the responsibilities of the author and the authoring tool
they choose to use. Allowing alternate text to be optional in the
structure doesn't address the problem of poor alternative text being
provided by the author or the authoring tool they use - it is lowering
the integrity requirements for conformance. The only obvious benefit
is that most tool vendors will automatically adhere to HTML5, as very
few adhere to existing standards.

> > Badly written alt text being a
> > greater evil is misdirection. They're both extremely bad scenarios for
> > accessibility.
> >
>
>  They are. But one scenario is worse, because it makes it harder to
> identify, and therefore repair, problems.

I understand why one is worse, but, ignoring authors that just don't
care, the assumption here is that authoring tools will populate
content with random alternative text for conformance. In reality, we
haven't seen evidence that authoring tool vendors care about
conformance (markup or accessibility), apart from a few notable
exceptions (and those exceptions do not populate content with random
alt text).

> > The markup language should ensure the integrity of the
> > data.
> >
>  Indeed. This includes the ability to improve the data where necessary, and
> that relies on having clear ways of knowing what type of error we are
> dealing with in each case.

I disagree. The integrity of the structure is in its completeness and
appropriateness. Repair techniques are the responsibilities of the
authoring tool and the user agent. Only the author can know what they
really intended, so the authoring tool should make it as easy as
possible for the user to provide alternative text. If the author
doesn't provide the alternative, then the content isn't compliant.
Breaking integrity constraints on the structure doesn't solve that
problem - it weakens it so that non-conforming authoring tools can
claim conformance to HTML5 for an incomplete and inappropriate
structure, but would not adhere to WCAG.

Cheers,

Gez


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Received on Monday, 28 April 2008 19:17:49 UTC

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