Re: Consensus on longdesc change proposal

hi sylvia,

>I believe from recent discussions that ARIA specifies no such thing,
>but just that this is just the way in which screenreaders have
>implemented support for aria-describedby.

it is not the way screen readers have implemented aria-describedby, its they
way that it has been implemented in browsers. It has been implemented this
way because the notion of modifying aria-describedby to provide longdesc
like functionality was added much later than when aria-describedby was

as pointed out previously the feedback from one screen reader developer
(NVDA) was that they do not want to have to provide longdesc like UI
functionality (whatever it is called), it needs to be provided by the

One of the reasons why longdesc has been problematic in the past is it was
left up to AT to provide access, that cut out a range of other users who do
not use AT but could benefit from longdesc content.

So far no ARIA features have been implemented in a way that can be used by
non AT users, this appears to be by design as those who influence
implementations  believe that ARIA should only affect the 'accessibility
layer' not mainstream aspects of content display and behaviour. But if
aria-descibedby is to be an improvement on longdesc it must be a feature
that is accessible to all not just AT users.


On 26 May 2011 01:50, Silvia Pfeiffer <> wrote:

> Thanks, Laura, for making some of the changes that I suggested.
> Actually, I want to discuss another question - one that will likely be
> core to the discussion with Jonas' proposed change proposal.
> The longdesc change proposal says in the section on "Suggested
> Alternatives Are Not Viable Solutions" about aria-describedby:
> "aria-describedby kills off links: ARIA 1.0 specifies that anything
> that aria-describedby points to is presented to the user as if it
> occurred inside an attribute. Hence, if aria-describedby points to an
> element which is - or contains - a link, the link will be completely
> dead - the AT won't even inform the user about the link presence. "
> I believe from recent discussions that ARIA specifies no such thing,
> but just that this is just the way in which screenreaders have
> implemented support for aria-describedby. Also, IIUC it is an
> intention that screenreaders should be changed, in particular that
> they should provide links and change the language model if a @lang
> attribute is given in a section linked to by aria-describedby.
> It might be good to discuss this.
> Cheers,
> Silvia.
> On Thu, May 26, 2011 at 5:07 AM, Laura Carlson
> <> wrote:
> > Hello Everyone,
> >
> > Thank you for the strong support [1] of the longdesc Change Proposal (CP)
> [2].
> >
> > Judy suggested that I go ahead with suggested changes now.
> >
> > So I am pleased to inform you that I have updated the CP, as result of
> > comments made by members of this task force and others. I would like
> > to extend special thanks to Cynthia, Silvia and Gez. I've tried to
> > incorporate feedback as best that I could to with consideration of all
> > views. Can everyone not live with the Change Proposal now?
> >
> > Best Regards,
> > Laura
> >
> > [1]
> > [2]
> >
> > --
> > Laura L. Carlson
> >

with regards

Steve Faulkner
Technical Director - TPG | |
HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives -
Web Accessibility Toolbar -

Received on Thursday, 26 May 2011 06:46:21 UTC