W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > July 2009

Re: Nothing is really hidden

From: Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 2009 15:47:11 -0500
Message-ID: <643cc0270907011347g4eb2d220qe06ffa71c7122149@mail.gmail.com>
To: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
Cc: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
>> True, there may be some tools that automatically fill in the summary
>> attribute with incorrect values, and the web page author is not
>> allowed to edit the field via the tool. But I would say that was a
>> problem with the tool, not necessarily @summary.
> Why only tools that automatically fill in the summary? What if the
> ability to fill it out is hidden away in some 'table properties'
> dialog box? Or what if the summary was filled out back when the site
> was created using a plain texteditor and has been left since then.
>> As far as I know, the
>> value isn't hidden from either the author or QA, regardless. At a
>> minimum, they could check the value by looking at the page source.
> I don't think your average QA person is going to look at the page
> source to ensure that it is correct.

A bit off-topic, but a good discussion point. My response is, it's
hard to say. I'm assuming that if the company or organization (or
individual) is interested in ensuring his, her, or their site is
accessible, they would do whatever it takes to ensure the site is
accessible. I would find it more likely they would use AT software,
like JAWs. But I imagine there's other tools they could use, too.

>>> I think that it's very interesting to look at the differences between
>>> <img alt> and <table summary>. There are two important differences
>>> between them. First of all alt was a required attribute in HTML 4, so
>>> people validating their pages got an error if no @alt was included.
>>> Second, and I believe just as importantly, for a very long time (maybe
>>> still?) IE used to display the @alt attribute as a tooltip (if no
>>> @title attribute was present). That meant that the @alt attribute was
>>> somewhat visible to everyone. Even people without AT-tools. This lead
>>> to outdated or flat out wrong @alt values would be more likely to be
>>> detected pretty quickly and fixed.
>> You know, and this could only be me, but I don't use IE, except
>> briefly to test a page. I'm learning how to correctly add alt text
>> more from discussions on web sites, and my own increasing interest in
>> making my sites more accessible. My use of alt isn't perfect, but is
>> improving. The fact that it shows up on a tooltip has never made a
>> difference.
>> Perhaps others have felt that alt as tooltip in IE has helped them
>> improve their alt text.
> I'd be careful with drawing conclusions based on how people in this
> forum act. The mere fact that you are taking part in the HTML WG to me
> means that you are not an average author, but likely more passionate
> about creating HTML than your average dot-com or
> mom-and-pap-restaurant creating a website and maintaining it over the
> years.

My point was, I couldn't speak for other people, only myself. I do not
believe anyone has made a study of the use of alt in a tooltip and its
impact on the accuracy of the alt tag, so I have to fall back on
anecdotal information, as it is all I have.

>> The difference between it and the contents of other elements
>> is that it isn't visually displayed by non-AT user agents, such as
>> Safari, Firefox, IE, and Opera.
>> I digress, though.  To return to the topic of this thread, even when
>> @summary isn't displayed in say, Opera, it isn't hidden, because it is
>> exposed via JAWS, or other AT device. That's more the point I'm trying
>> to make: summary isn't 'hidden', it's just targeted to a specific
>> subset of the user community.
> I still think it is hidden unless the person is using an AT tool, or
> unless they specifically go look for outdated summaries (using DOM,
> view-source or through other means). Hence "hidden" rather than
> "impossible to access", you need to actively search for it in order to
> see it.

It isn't displayed for certain user agents, true. It is exposed,
though, via other user agents.

To return to my point, and sorry if I seem to be belaboring it: I
think that the use of 'hidden' for certain elements and attributes
could negatively impact on how they are perceived, or valued. I think
its important to look at these values (and that includes semantic
markup, not just accessibility markup) as targeted to a different
subset of users, rather than just define them, generally, as 'hidden'.

> This is all a game of numbers. Yes, it's technically possible for
> authors and QA to go find the summary using any of the means that you
> have mentioned. But very few people will.

Perhaps we could break this new topic out into a separate thread for
discussion. I'd be game to participate.


Received on Wednesday, 1 July 2009 20:47:50 UTC

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