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[Bug 13651] Missing alt should not be considered conforming in the presence of figcaptions over 50 words in length.

From: <bugzilla@jessica.w3.org>
Date: Sun, 07 Aug 2011 16:26:22 +0000
To: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
Message-Id: <E1Qq6BC-0006In-PT@jessica.w3.org>

--- Comment #10 from John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu> 2011-08-07 16:26:20 UTC ---
(In reply to comment #9)
> I think we must assume editors' drafts are "correct" (i.e. does not cause
> problems) until problems are substantiated. Anything else would be chaos.

With all due respect, your opinion here, and it *is* just an opinion, is not
universally shared. When it comes to understanding the requirements of users
with disabilities, many feel that the editor has an extremely poor track-record
of understanding and delivering acceptable solutions.

With regard to this bug, the research and evidence was done and presented. It
is now incumbent on the editor to address those points with a response more
substantial than "WONTFIX" and "there is nothing wrong..." Says who? The
editor? Why should his opinion hold the day, especially when this bug was filed
by a self-identified daily user of screen reading technology? Are you going to
suggest that the editor has more experience using screen readers, and has a
better understanding of that user perspective, than someone who is clearly an
experienced daily SR user?

> > it saves time to ask for and have provided evidence or reasoning 
> On the contrary, I think it's a waste of time to ask editors to prove
> unsubstantiated problems do not exist.

Except that proof has been submitted that there is a possibility of problems,
so the problem has been substantiated. 

> We shouldn't be trying to obtain and
> then disprove a negative proof, we should be trying to provide positive proof
> for problems up front.

This is a conformance question, not a user agent issue, and to meet a standard
of usable, accessible page content, overly verbose ALTERNATIVES to visual page
elements have negative consequences. If you or anyone else can prove this to be
wrong then please bring forth that proof. 

You might wish to argue that the number 50 is arbitrary, and that it should be
40 or 60 - fine, bring forth that argument as well - however that line of
pursuit in no way dismisses the fact that at some point "too much" is indeed
too much: the basic premise of this bug is that overly verbose ALTERNATIVES to
images is harmful and unfriendly to non-sighted users.

WCAG, WAI, PF and a host of affected users have repeatedly advocated for,
requested, and demonstrated that users of Screen Readers (and not "AT", which
also encompasses solutions such as screen magnifiers, alternative switching
devices, speech to text technology, etc.) require both short *and* expanded
textual descriptions for complex images. This requirement is not a binary
either/or requirement, but rather a compound short AND (when appropriate) long
textual equivalents to in-page images requirement. 

Before sighted users and authors can dismiss this requirement, it is incumbent
on them to disprove this fact. Suggesting that perhaps someday some screen
reader might afford the end user the opportunity to undo bad authoring practice
is Utopian at best and fosters the creation of problematic content today.

The bottom line here is that an image with a "thousand words" of text
associated to it does not have a textual alternative, it has a textual
description. If you, the editor or others cannot understand that difference,
then no amount of "proof" will seem to address your position. 

> > otherwise the bug may be escalated because the
> > editor expects the bug reporter to accept the editors word as authoritative
> > without evidence. 
> Failure to provide evidence of a problem in the first place almost guarantees
> such escalation, 

I have already tagged this bug with TrackerIssue, so it is being (one hopes)

> > If this does occur  then the information will be required to
> > defend what's in the spec.
> Effective change proposals, like effective bug reports, give evidence for
> problems.

Correct, and so it will be the responsibility of the editor or others to prove
that images do not require both terse and (when appropriate) longer texts: that
this *is* a binary issue and not a compound requirement. Can *you* prove that
Ben? Can you prove that an overly long text track does not as some point become
an onerous and unfriendly alternative to an image?

> Where is the positive evidence that a 50-word text alternative is required but
> a 51-word text alternatives is intrinsically not "much more verbose than what
> is useful or appropriate" or "too distracting"?

If you don't like 50, provide another number. 60? 80? 250? 8,439? For
conformance checking, what is the number that you would propose to page
authors? And why?

> What is the rationale that such summarisation must be performed by adding text
> to "alt" rather than by using "aria-labelled" and "aria-describedby" to point
> at parts of the <figcaption>?

While this is a good suggestion, how will conformance checkers know that this
*may* be appropriate? 

Or are you now suggesting that when authors use figcaption as a replacement for
@alt that they must ALSO use one of either "aria-labelled" and/or
"aria-describedby"? If that is the case, then a change must still be submitted
to the current draft to modify this. Are you prepared to write that Change
Proposal Ben?

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Received on Sunday, 7 August 2011 16:26:28 UTC

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