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Re: What makes a failure? (@summary, et al)

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Mon, 08 Jun 2009 16:32:30 +0200
To: "Henri Sivonen" <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Cc: "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.uu7mogmnwxe0ny@widsith.local>
On Mon, 08 Jun 2009 12:56:57 +0200, Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi> wrote:

> On Jun 8, 2009, at 12:48, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>> Further, I believe that this represents an improvement in  
>> accessibility. This is despite the common use of alt="" or some other  
>> default meaningless text where it is inappropriate, which actually  
>> reduces the accessibility of the particular page even in comparison to  
>> simply leaving off alt, by actively misleading the user. (Leaving off  
>> alt is still going to break accessibility in such cases, it is just a  
>> slightly lesser among available evils, in a case where it is possible  
>> to do good).
> Isn't alt as practiced substantially different from summary as  
> practiced, though, in the sense that the relative incidence of good or  
> at least passable alt is much higher than the relative incidence of good  
> or passable summary?

It is different, but I am not sure if the difference is material. It seems  
likely that overall alt is more important than summary, leading to more  
data, and more effort to make sure authors get it right sooner.

The difference with a bad alt and a bad summary is also important, since a  
bad alt is relatively hard to detect and provides more critical failures  
(making it effectively impossible to understand, instead of just extremely  

In any case, I did not assert that somehow these attributes are the same.  
I asserted that being ready to abandon things because there is bad content  
may not be as good an idea as it first seems, since the harm allegedly  
done may not outweigh the value of the good that is done. I think alt is a  
clearer illustration of that - because it is better understood. (alt is  
not an ideal solution in general, but we have more or less made it work  
over the last couple of decades, and without relying on sunk costs and  
opportunity cost, I think it makes sense to keep it even if we need to  
augment it with things we hope will one day replace it).



Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals       Try Opera: http://www.opera.com
Received on Monday, 8 June 2009 14:33:17 UTC

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