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

From: Andrew Sidwell <w3c@andrewsidwell.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 13 May 2008 15:51:17 +0100
Message-ID: <4829AAE5.90606@andrewsidwell.co.uk>
To: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
CC: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, wai-liaison@w3.org

Robert J Burns wrote:
> On May 13, 2008, at 12:53 PM, Andrew Sidwell wrote:
>> I would be happy if someone (or several someones) in favour of making 
>> alt mandatory in all cases would answer very simply: How does a blind 
>> photographer mark up a photo, which is known to be critical content, 
>> but which she herself cannot describe?
> 
> According to the new draft section,  the alt attribute is not to be used
> for description of photographs that are critical content. You're 
> thinking of the current editor's draft that attempt to expand the alt 
> attribute to cover many more accessibility functions. However, according 
> to best practice recommendations descriptions — including descriptions 
> of photographs — should be handled through other means. For a blind 
> author they would likely not even think in terms of using an image of 
> rich text or an iconic image or a chart to convey their meaning. [...]

I don't believe I said they would—that was not what I was asking about.

<snip>
> So to summarize critical content text alternative is not a description 
> of an image. It's the necessarily brief text that would be required for 
> a user to comprehend the document in the absence of the image.

Whilst all of this was interesting to read, it was also irrelevant to 
the question.  A page whose purpose is to display photographs cannot be 
comprehended in any meaningful way in the absence of the image in the 
case of the question I posed above (that is, where the person creating 
the page to show the image may herself have only the vaguest of notions 
of what the image is).

>> Is it:
>> <img src="photo">
>> <img src="photo" alt="Photo">
>> <img src="photo" alt="Exposure 2s, f/12">
>> or something else?
> 
> Something else (a photo will rarely require anything but null alt):
> 
> <img src='photo1' alt='' longdesc='descriptions#photo1' >

This merely moves the burden from alt text to a longdesc.  The question 
still stands.

I would suggest that
   <!DOCTYPE html>
   <title>

   <header>
     <h1>Photo Gallery</h1>
     <h2>Photo taken on 13th May 2008</h3>
   </header>

   <img src="photo">
   <p><a href="prev">Previous photo</a>, <a href="next">Next photo</a>

would not be a bad way of answering the question.  Maybe include a 
paragraph straight after the image saying "1/2000s exposure at f/1.8".

How would you propose to do it differently?

(Consider also the case of a webcam mounted on a bag that took photos 
and uploaded them via a 3G connection every five minutes.  A similar 
situation applies there.)

<snip irrelevant points>
> The rest of your questions I'll leave for you to answer. As you can 
> probably see now, they were based on a fundamental misunderstanding of 
> the alt attribute.

I can't help but feel you've sidestepped the question, though 
unintentionally.

Andrew Sidwell
Received on Tuesday, 13 May 2008 14:52:07 GMT

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