Re: dropping longdesc attribute

Hi Lachlan,
Why is it that you have access to data ((Source: Unpublished Google internal
survey of several billion pages conducted in September 2006.)
from an unpublished survey that you can quote seletively to back up
your arguments
against the inclusion of accessibility related
attributes, but other members of the group who are trying to argue for
their continued inclusion
cannot draw on and interpret the same data for the benefit of thier arguments?

Why not provide access to the data to all members of the working group
rather than pulling out selective results to benefit a particular argument?

On 23/06/07, Lachlan Hunt <> wrote:
> Denis Boudreau (WebConforme) wrote:
> >
> > Evening all,
> >
> >>> Anyway, what rationale for dropping longdesc?
> >>
> >> IIRC, the reason for not including it was because very few authors
> >> ever use it and, when it is used, it's not used properly.
> >
> > OMG, that argument again. Who cares if it's useful.
> If a feature isn't useful, there is no need for it.  But, since I didn't
> say it wasn't useful, I'm going to assume you actually meant who cares
> if it's used properly.  In that case, users should care!  If it's not
> used properly, it doesn't benefit anyone.
> > Quickly, let's trash h1 to h6 also - and let's not forget blockquote
> while
> > we're at it.
> The difference is that it's easy to find significant evidence to justify
> the inclusion of h1 to h6 and blockquote.  It is not so easy to find
> evidence for longdesc.
> > Longdesc are essential for screen readers to provide long descriptions
> > for graphics that otherwise could not be described because the nature of
> > their content is just too complicated for a simple alt attribute.
> A description of how it benefits users when used properly doesn't
> constitute evidence of it being used properly.  Although I'm quite sure
> users would benefit when they stumble across a site that uses it
> properly, the question is does it get used properly on a significant
> number of sites?
> > Is there a single accessibility feature in HTML that will survive this
> > group? Why is the left hand (html-wg) so bluntly ignoring what the right
> > one (wai-wg) does?
> Contrary to what you may think, I am not against accessibility features
> in HTML.  We just have different opinions about the best way to achieve
> it.  A lot of people seem to be advocating the use of accessibility
> add-ons, like headers="" and longdesc="".  However, a much better
> approach to accessibility is to try and cater for it as part of the
> fundamental design, not include it as an afterthought.
> For that reason, I would prefer if accessibility could be achived
> without things such as headers="" and longdesc="".  That is why, for
> example, I essentially argued that it would be better for accessibility
> if the headers attribute was redundant in most (if not all) cases, since
> it would achieve the same result with less effort from authors.  That is
> why so many arguments against headers were trying and show that the
> example tables provided did not need to use the headers attribute.  That
> is why so much evidence got question because the headers attribute was
> either redundant, or used wrongly.
> >> More research on the issue is welcome.  In particular, evidence of
> >> significant real world usage that provides a practical benefit to
> >> users would be good.
> >
> > And why should we bother? There has been a lot of efforts made
> > previously by John (Folliot) and others in order to save summary and
> > headers in tables. Still, the draft hasn't backed out one bit on the
> > subject.
> Ok, let's put this in perspective, shall we?  Hixie has about 5000
> unanswered emails (if not more) relating to hundreds of unresolved
> issues, spanning over 3 years of development.  Rest assured that the
> headers issue will be dealt with in due course.  A final decision has
> not yet been made.
> > Lachlan, why wouldn't you, for a change (as John had so eloquently
> > asked previously), provide evidence that this attribute is useless?
> I am not arguing that it's useless.  My argument is simply that there is
> not yet enough evidence to support its inclusion and that we should
> investigate better alternatives, if possible.
> Anyway, the following are the results of a search containing about 100
> billion <img> elements [1].  About 80 million (0.08%) had a longdesc
> attribute specified.  Of those, about 33 million were blank.  From this,
> we can conclude that about 41% of all longdesc attributes are definitely
> used incorrectly.  That leaves an upper bound of about 47 million
> (0.047%) longdesc attributes in the sample that may be used correctly.
> However, it is quite likely that many of those don't contain a URI, or
> link to a description that isn't particularly useful.
> But as I said, more research is welcome.  A final decision has not been
> made on this issue.
> > Those of us who work with screen reader users on a regular basis
> > know that this attribute is extremely relevant when it is used properly.
> Then you should have plenty of evidence available to show where it has
> been used in useful ways.
> I know wikipedia uses it, but the question is, is it used in a useful
> way?  This is an example taken from wikipedia:
> <a href="/wiki/Image:Stargate_SG-1_Season_9_Title.jpg" class="image"
> title=""><img alt=""
> longdesc="/wiki/Image:Stargate_SG-1_Season_9_Title.jpg"
> src="
> "
> height="141" width="250"></a><br>
> <small>Stargate SG-1 intertitle (Seasons 9-10)</small>
> The longdesc attribute points to the same location as the link.  So,
> arguably, nothing would be lost if the longdesc was removed.  It's also
> questionable whether the page it links to actually qualifies as a long
> description.  The image pages on wikipedia generally don't describe the
> image in any useful way for assistive technology.  They usually just
> provide a larger version of the image, copyright info, file history, etc.
> [1] (Source: Unpublished Google internal survey of several billion pages
> conducted in September 2006.)
> --
> Lachlan Hunt

with regards

Steve Faulkner
Technical Director - TPG Europe
Director - Web Accessibility Tools Consortium |

Received on Saturday, 23 June 2007 07:49:35 UTC