W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > wai-xtech@w3.org > May 2008

Re: HTML Action Item 54 - ...draft text for HTML 5 spec to require producers/authors to include @alt on img elements.

From: Dave Singer <singer@apple.com>
Date: Mon, 12 May 2008 09:14:16 -0700
Message-Id: <p06240893c44e1bddffb8@[]>
To: "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, wai-liaison@w3.org, Dan Connolly <connolly@w3.org>, Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>, "Michael(tm) Smith" <mike@w3.org>

This entire conversation seems to be be in repeating circles. 
Personally, I would like to see a considered answer to the question 
below, and I don't think I have.  Having, in essence, the question or 
disagreement endlessly repeated is making the mailing list tedious to 
follow.  If we've had a helpful answer, can someone repeat it?  If 
we're on track for getting an answer, can we wait for it?  If we 
don't think an answer is possible, then we need to re-frame the 

"In striving for the best support for accessibility, we would like 
guidance on what to say in a specification on the use of the alt 
attribute for an image when there is no reasonable alt text known. 
It seems as if alt="" would state (probably erroneously) that the 
image is not semantically significant, and alt="an image" -- or 
something similar -- while true, is quite unhelpful.  Some of us are 
uncomfortable with such a string, because it seems to mislead the 
user agent into believing that there is useful alt text, when it may 
be able to do better if it was aware that there is no alt text.  For 
example, it can conclude quite easily by itself that it is "an image" 
and in addition would be able to state its size, and would be at 
liberty to do other analysis (e.g. stating that it had some 
similarity to another image on the page, recognize that it contains 
one or more faces, etc.).  It can also do this in the user's natural 
language, if known.  Because of this, we have considered allowing the 
omission of alt in this case (when no useful alt text is known at the 
authoring point), but we are concerned about this too, as it may 
'open the barn door' and such a permission to omit may be abused. In 
essence, we have three cases (useful text known, images that are 
semantically insignificant, potentially significant images with no 
known alt text) but only two indicators -- non-empty and empty alt 
text?  Do you have guidance on what to say in a specification on the 
use of the alt attribute for an image when there is no reasonable alt 
text known?"
David Singer
Received on Monday, 12 May 2008 16:15:28 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Friday, 27 April 2012 13:15:49 GMT