Re: Is Flickr an Edge Case? (was Re: HTML Action Item 54)

I must admit that I'm a little staggered at the amount of conversation 
flickr has produced with regard to alt tags. Responding, here, as a 
totally blind web content consumer and not as a member of the IBM Human 
Ability & Accessibility Center, you can put all of the alt tags on flickr 
that you desire - I'm still not going to visit it because photos are 
inheritly visual entities. For the dozen or so photos that have received 
thousands of views (and that, presumably, resemble the news broadcast 
rather than the private telephone call), 100 or 150 characters of alt text 
is not going to make the photo any more useful to me. Are we next going to 
suggest that all of the songs available on the web need closed caption so 
that deaf folks can enjoy them, too?  As someone who is blind, I realized 
a long time ago that photography, driving, and painting are endeavors in 
which I am simply not going to engage and I think it detracts from the 
conversation about the real utility of alt to concentrate on what I see 
as, indeed, an edge case. Of course, I am only one person and I'm sure 
that many of my colleagues and fellow PWDs will vehemently disagree with 

--> Mike Squillace
IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center
Austin, TX


"L. David Baron" <> 
Sent by:
05/26/2008 07:59 PM

John Foliot <>
"'Maciej Stachowiak'" <>, "'Karl Groves'" 
<>, "'Andrew Sidwell'" 
<>,, "'W3C WAI-XTECH'" 
<>,, "'HTML4All'" <>, 
"'Matt Morgan-May'" <>
Re: Is Flickr an Edge Case? (was Re: HTML Action Item 54)

On Monday 2008-05-26 17:17 -0700, John Foliot wrote:
> Given that "photo sharing" is one of the most popular activities on the
> internet, all the more reason to not leave open the door that suggests 
> sometimes an image without @alt is "conformant".  The constant refrain 
> the working group is that this would be a rare instance, yet you now 
> that it will be the majority, and not a rare instance at all.  If 10 of 
> top 100 websites on the WWW have this magic get-out-of-jail-free card 
> surely others will seek to claim the same status.  The precedent being
> suggested here is staggering.  This is supposed to "help" accessibility?

I'd like to step back into the real (non-Web) world for a pair of
brief examples:
  1) A television news broadcast, expected to have an audience of
  thousands or millions, is required to have closed captioning,
  since that captioning will benefit a significant number of people
  in the audience.  The benefit of the captioning is greater than
  the cost of doing it.

  2) When I have a phone conversation with a friend, closed
  captioning is not required.  Neither of us would benefit from the
  closed captioning.  (If we wanted a written conversation, we'd use
  email or IM.)  There is zero benefit to the captioning, and it
  would have significant cost (compared to that benefit), so it is
  not done.

One of the great things about the Web today is that it is blurring
the distinction between these two examples.  Today's Web is not only
about large corporations publishing content for the masses to
consume.  It's also about creation of content by individuals, a few
of whom have an opportunity to be heard widely that they never had
before, but many of whom are still essentially having conversations
among a small group of friends.

Applying all the requirements we apply to mass media to content
creation for small audiences doesn't make sense.  We have to
consider the costs and benefits of meeting these requirements.  If
we enforce them on everyone, one thing we'll do is force a lot of
this content off of the Web entirely, which would make it accessible
to much fewer people.

I think flickr is a great example of the read-write Web because it
contains a small number of very popular photos, and lots of photos
that have been viewed fewer than a dozen times.


L. David Baron                       
Mozilla Corporation             

Received on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 12:47:26 UTC