Re: More on IMG ALT (was Re: Questionable implementation of IMG

Benjamin Franz (
Tue, 27 Jan 1998 05:24:30 -0800 (PST)

Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 05:24:30 -0800 (PST)
From: Benjamin Franz <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-ID: <>
Subject: Re: More on IMG ALT (was Re: Questionable implementation of IMG 

On Tue, 27 Jan 1998, Ian Samson wrote:

> On 26 Jan 98 at 12:53, Walter Ian Kaye <> 
> wrote:
> > Actually, it depends on the browser. Some versions of Lynx, and MSIE,
> > treat <IMG SRC="foo.gif" ALT=""> the same as <IMG SRC="foo.gif"> -- the
> > null attribute value is minimized to attribute absence, resulting in the
> > ugly "(Image)" text being displayed. :/  The workaround is to specify
> > *something*, most popularly a space (ALT=" ").
> My 0.01c worth, a blank alt=" " does absolutely nothing for the 
> visually-impaired surfers who rely on sound rather than sight. In my 
> opinion, the W3C ought to make the ALT="description" mandatory.

It does tons for the visually impaired by eliminating things that would
not make any sense outside of the visual mode. It should be used when it
would make no sense to have a textual alternative to the graphic. Bluntly,
if the W3C tried to *MANDATE* the presence of non-blank text in alt they
would be ignored for doing such a stupid/silly thing. Not every image
needs (or even should have) a text substitute. A substantial fraction of
images are present *SOLELY* to provide visual formatting control or for
other tasks that are simply not relevant to non-graphic browsers. 

What text would you propose should substitute for a 100x1 pixel completely
transparent GIF that's only purpose in life is to space two other images
apart by precisely 100 pixels? (Don't detour into 'you should use
stylesheet positioning' - I can't depend on stylesheet positioning for web
sites today and probably won't be able to for at least another year. I've
got web sites that have to be up in days. Customers won't buy 'ok viewed
with MSIE 4, only'.) 

Benjamin Franz