W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > January 2012

Using an image map for long described image links [Was: Revert Request]

From: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis <bhawkeslewis@googlemail.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2012 21:40:13 +0000
Message-ID: <CAEhSh3eoEtTzgEuZt8E99C3e2C1G8Pu1wRwG+wFZyM4=CgzSbg@mail.gmail.com>
To: Matthew Turvey <mcturvey@gmail.com>
Cc: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>, Leif Halvard Silli <xn--mlform-iua@xn--mlform-iua.no>, Silvia Pfeiffer <silviapfeiffer1@gmail.com>, Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Paul Cotton <Paul.Cotton@microsoft.com>, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
On Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 6:15 PM, Matthew Turvey <mcturvey@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 28 January 2012 04:57, John Foliot <john@foliot.ca> wrote:


>>  * Browsers must address the discoverability problem for all users.
>>  * Browsers must natively support the user-choice of consuming or not
>> consuming the longer textual description.
>>  * Browsers must preserve the HTML richness of the longer textual
>> description content.
> This simple solution meets all the requirements:
> <a href=foo><img src=pic alt="*the purpose of the link*"></a>

Okay, I can see some web designers might use that pattern but …

> If users need to be able to determine programmatically that the link
> is a long description of the image, or authors want to put two links
> on one image:
> <a href=foo rel=longdesc><img src=pic alt="*a programmatically
> determinable long description link*"></a>
> <img src=pic alt="*text alternative*" usemap=#map>
> <map name=map>
> <area shape=rect coords=0,0,100,50 href=foo rel=longdesc alt="*a
> programmatically determinable long description link*">
> <area shape=rect coords=0,50,100,100 href=bar alt="*on an image that
> is already a link*">
> </map>
> This universal design approach works for everyone, right now, and
> doesn’t require changes to accessibility APIs, software upgrades,
> browser add-ons, user training, author training, or employing the
> services of an accessibility specialist. Unlike longdesc (and ARIA)
> this technique currently works in all screen readers, including
> VoiceOver, Orca and NVDA, as well as all other AT, including screen
> magnifiers, and all browsers.

Screenreaders aside, how does this design work for:

    1. Sighted keyboard users who cannot trivially determine which
part of the image leads to what.

    2. Sighted mouse users who will be confused by (say) a photo that
leads either to a text description or to a larger version (e.g. a big
raw JPG) depending on where they click.

(Tooltips aren't a good workaround for these defects, as UAs don't
show them on focus and users don't wait for them or read them.)

The usability of this pattern can only degrade further when you throw
partial sight (making it hard to use the tooltips), motor impairments
(making it hard to focus the mouse), or learning disabilities (making
it hard to understand opaque interfaces) into the mix.

If the design will not afford distinct, visible, on-page controls, the
discoverability problems raised by distinguishing between a primary
action (getting a bigger image) and a secondary action (getting
information about the image) are likely easier to mitigate through
better UA interfaces than the usability headaches created by authors
arbitrarily carving up photos, charts, and diagrams into mystery meat


Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis
Received on Monday, 30 January 2012 21:40:41 UTC

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