RE: UNS: WCAG considering amending F65 to NOT fail missing ALT text if title or aria-label is present

Thanks Janina

That is helpful... Oddly, this discussion never made it into WCAG during
that time ... This statement seems to say that HTML5 A11Y TF would agree
with allowing the labelledby as a replacement for ALT, but NOT a Title
attribute, or aria-label. Would you like me to take that back to WCAG? Or
would you like me say that the HTML5 A11Y force would accept anything that
correctly reports to the accessibility API?

We recommend continued inclusion of the alt attribute as one of the valid
mechanisms to provide short text alternatives.
We recommend aria-labelledby as a second valid mechanism for short text
We recommend  that HTML5 state that "For guidance on accessibility
requirements for text alternatives authors should consult WCAG 2.0."
    and that HTML should not provide any guidance that conflicts with WCAG.

David MacDonald

CanAdapt Solutions Inc.
Tel:  613.235.4902 
  Adapting the web to all users
            Including those with disabilities

-----Original Message-----
From: 'Janina Sajka' [] 
Sent: November 22, 2013 6:54 PM
To: David MacDonald
Cc: 'HTML Accessibility Task Force'; WCAG WG;;
'Gregg Vanderheiden';
Subject: Re: UNS: WCAG considering amending F65 to NOT fail missing ALT text
if title or aria-label is present


As a point of information, the wider WAI community has already expressed a
view on this. We did so back in 2009, after almost a year of teleconferences
nd email discussions by way of presenting a coherent approach to the

The document we produced is entitled, "WAI CG Consensus Resolutions on Text
alternatives in HTML 5," and is available at:

So, while it's always good to revisit old thinking, it should not be
forgotten that we've already covered this ground, and that we covered it
quite extensively.


David MacDonald writes:
> On behalf of the WCAG working group, I have an action item to solicit 
> responses from the wider community regarding a proposed amendment to 
> WCAG failure technique F65 regarding missing ALT. Currently; if an 
> <img> element is missing from an ALT attribute the page fails WCAG SC 
> 1.1.1 Level A. Some are proposing that we allow authors to use the 
> aria-label, aria-labelledby, and title attributes INSTEAD of ALT.
> So under the amended failure technique NONE of the following would 
> fail
> <img src="../images/giraffe.jpg" title="Giraffe grazing on tree 
> branches"/>
> <img src="../images/giraffe.jpg" aria-label="Giraffe grazing on tree 
> branches"/>
> <img src="../images/giraffe.jpg" aria-labelledby="123"/> <p id="123"> 
> Giraffe grazing on tree branches</p>
> As you can imagine there are strong opinions all around on this so I 
> suggested we get a sense of what other groups such as the HTML5 A11y 
> TF and PF think.
> Those in favour of the change provide the following rational: 
> --These alternatives on the img element work in assistive technology 
> --The aria spec says these attributes should get an accessible NAME in 
> the API
> --They say it's easy to teach beginner programmers to just always use 
> an aria label on everything, rather than requiring a label on form 
> fields and alt on images --They feel as a failure F65 is very strong 
> if fails a page for missing ALT, especially if other things work, and 
> they would like to soften it to allow other things that work.
> --html 5 allows a <figure><legend> combination instead of alt, so they 
> feel WCAG will have to change F65 anyway to allow a figure with a 
> legend, and that helps open the door to this discussion
> Those in favour of the status quo (which fails missing alt text) 
> provide the following rational:
> --aria-label, labelledby and title, are not really suitable attributes 
> for img alternative text because they implies a label or title, rather 
> than an alternate text, so it is not a semantic equivalent --title is 
> not well supported --some feel that the aria spec is not in any way 
> suggesting these as replacements to ALT.
> --aria instructs authors to use native html where possible, and they 
> could not come up with viable use cases of omitting alt text --there 
> are hundreds of millions of dollars invested in current evaluation 
> tools, and methodologies, and this would represent a major departure 
> from one of the most basic accessibility convention, that is almost as 
> old as the web and is the "rock star" of accessibility --it could cost 
> a lot of money to change guidance to developers etc..., and muddy the 
> waters on a very efficient current evaluation mechanism --when the 
> figure/legend is supported by AT we can amend F65 but that is a 
> different issue and the semantics of this construct are OK for text 
> alternatives, rather than the label/labelledby/title options --it may 
> cause some confidence problems to WCAG legislation, because it 
> represents a strong loosening to a fundamental Success Criteria, an 
> unnecessary change that doesn't help the cause of accessibility, but 
> just complicates things --ALT is better supported and the text appears 
> when images are turned off.
> --initial twitter feedback from the community is strongly against 
> changing this failure
> There are probably other reasons on both sides which we hope to hear 
> ... but these should start it off. Please give your opinions and reasons.
> Current technique here:
> Proposed failure here (see test procedure)
> Cheers,
> David MacDonald
> CanAdapt Solutions Inc.
> Tel:  613.235.4902
>   Adapting the web to all users
>             Including those with disabilities


Janina Sajka,	Phone:	+1.443.300.2200

Linux Foundation Fellow
Executive Chair, Accessibility Workgroup:

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
Chair,	Protocols & Formats
	Indie UI

Received on Saturday, 23 November 2013 00:18:59 UTC