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

Hello Steve,

1. Some advance the text alternative computation logic in the ARIA specs as the chief motivation for attributes other than the alt for images, specifically the aria-labelledby and title. 
I find it difficult to accept that viewpoint for  reasons noted  in my post:

2. As one might expect, developers rely on automated validation checkers to validate pages  as suggested by techniques G134, H88 to ensure compliance with SC 4.1.1 (A).
While only a subset of validation rules apply for this SC, most developers will not be able to or do not have bandwidth to do the fine tuning as required for this SC and will simply aim for full validation as the intent to the SC suggests that content which is 'created according to the rules defined in the formal grammar for that technology' is a good thing to ensure interoperability and robust browser/AT support.
So now if one says 'disregard validation errors for absence of alt attribute, confusion will be rife. 
Usefulness of the validation checkers too will be questioned.
Above all, it is not good for the WG to say'it is fine if one introduces certain types of validation issues into the code'.

Thanks and regards,

Sailesh Panchang

On Sat, 11/23/13, Steve Faulkner <> wrote:

 Subject: Re: UNS: WCAG considering amending F65 to NOT fail missing ALT text  if title or aria-label is present
 To: "David MacDonald" <>, "HTML Accessibility Task Force" <>, "WCAG WG" <>,, "Gregg Vanderheiden" <>,
 Date: Saturday, November 23, 2013, 3:39 AM
 Hi Janina, 
 Over time and due to experience and understanding, consensus
 positions change. This document is a useful historical
 reference, but does not represent the current (lack of)
 consensus position on the issue.
 On 22 November 2013
 23:54, Janina Sajka <>
 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
 > WCAG:
 > <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"
 > <p id="123"> Giraffe grazing on tree
 > 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
 > --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
 > --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
 > --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
 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 Sunday, 24 November 2013 03:09:21 UTC