Re: Baby Steps or Backwards Steps?

3 questions:

1. why not raise the issue on public-html?

2. why not cross post your concerns/issues to the WHAT WG list 
   and the list, which exists precisely to 
   address authoring tool issues;

3. how does leaving alt out entirely when an image is not "purely 
   decorative" "better" serve someone merely by indicating the 
   presence of an image?

1 suggestion:

check out the work of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines
working group -- -- there is a normative
technical recommendation (ATAG 1.0 -- 
and work on ATAG 2.0 is currently underway...  the purpose is to 
ensure that authoring tools of every type enable an author to 
create valid, structured, semantically meaningful and accessible,
AND to ensure that authoring tools of every type are useable by 
persons with disabilities, so that they need not be relegated to 
passive consumers of content (there's already a medium for that,
named television) but can equally participate in aspects of life 
that hitherto were impossible, such as managing one's own finances,
or even directly communicating with a large network of one's own 
peers -- before electronic information exchange, one of the biggest
obstacles preventing effective communication between blind individuals
and/or groups, one had to decide how many alternative versions of 
the content needed to be made available...  there's large print (and
there are legal definitions of what constitutes text that can be 
posted "free matter for the blind or physically impaired"), which 
will be useful to some, braille -- something which only a relatively 
small portion of the totally blind community can use, due to neuropathy 
and other neurological complications that may accompany blindness,
or be sustained afterward; and converting information in a timely 
manner (such as a legislative alert, asking people to write to their 
representatives on an issue of direct import) into an audio format,
mass reproducing hard copies of audiblized content, and sending them 
out often makes the audiblized information moot by the time it actually 
reaches the intended recipient; electronic communication changes the 
landscape dramatically, enabling -- for the first time in human history 
-- users who could not directly communicate or network amongst 
themsevles, were suddenly able to do so due to email, newsgroups, 
and, eventually, the web...  this is but one example -- i can only 
speak of that which i know, but i'm sure if i had cross-posted this
thread to the w3c-wai-ig (interest group) list, you would have heard 
from quite a few specific user groups who have their own set of 
barriers to overcome...  when TBL initiated the Web Accessibility 
Initiative, it was precisely to remove existing barriers and to 
encourage developers, implementors, authors and end-users to 
consider all aspects of usability/universality/accessibility at 
EVERY stage of the W3C process, so that new barriers would not 
be erected by or codified in a W3C technical recommendation...

Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves. 
                              -- Gene Fowler (1890-1960)
Gregory J. Rosmaita:
Camera Obscura:

---------- Original Message -----------
From: Maciej Stachowiak <>
To: Jason White <>
Cc: HTMLWG <>,
Sent: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 22:52:44 -0700
Subject: Re: Baby Steps or Backwards Steps?

> On Aug 15, 2007, at 9:07 PM, Jason White wrote:
> >
> > On Thu, Aug 16, 2007 at 01:43:04PM +1000, Lachlan Hunt wrote:
> >
> >> IIRC, one of the problems with that approach is that encourages  
> >> authoring
> >> tools wanting to output conforming markup to generate useless alt  
> >> text,
> >> which is often worse than providing no alt attribute at all.
> >
> > On the contrary, it could also encourage authoring tools wanting to  
> > output
> > conformant markup to prompt the author appropriately in the user  
> > interface to
> > supply the necessary ALT text.
> I raised this issue a while ago on the WHATWG list. The specific 
>  examples I cited were:
> 1) Photo sharing sites like It would be wildly 
> impractical  for such a site to prompt the user for alt text for 
> every image,  especially since they allow batch uploads of 
> hundreds of photos. They  do allow adding caption text that is 
> visible to everyone, but don't  require it.
> 2) Mail clients that generate HTML. A user may be inserting an 
> image  or multiple images through drag-and-drop or copy/paste. 
> Again it would  be impractical and annoying to prompt the user.
> Please keep in mind these kinds of scenarios where the 
> "authoring  tool" is simply an end-user application that happens 
> to generate HTML.  Such applications aim not professional 
> authors but end users who are  not experts on markup or 
> accessibility. Note that popping up a modal  dialog to ask for 
> alt text could actually hurt accessibility for  creating and 
> sharing content.
> In practice what has happened in cases like 1 and 2 is that 
> alt=""  gets inserted always, which is counterproductive. It 
> leads screen  readers and text-only clients to treat the image 
> as purely decorative,  which it's not. It is better to leave out 
> alt entirely in such cases  so that tools can indicate the 
> presence of an image.
> Regards,
> Maciej
------- End of Original Message -------

Received on Thursday, 16 August 2007 06:36:08 UTC