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title inclusion

From: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2001 13:13:24 -0500
Message-Id: <a05100305b832c1adcda5@[]>
To: WAI-GL <w3c-wai-gl@W3.org>
Here is a recurring bugbear I mentioned the other day.

When it comes to providing alternate text for images, current WCAG 
only ever bothers to talk about alt (universally supported, but short 
and limited) and longdesc (almost completely unsupported, and way too 
big most of the time). Meanwhile, the tremendously useful title 
attribute, supported by virtually everything save for Netscape 4 and 
OutSpoken for Macintosh, is ignored completely.

title sits halfway between alt and longdesc. You can load it up with 
several sentences of text and it will still display even in monopoly 
browsers like Windows IE. Very often, four or five words in an alt 
and a couple of sentences in a title fully and completely sum up an 

As one of the "common attributes," title is looked down upon as Not 
Really Being Our Kind of Thing Here. Since you can slap a title on 
essentially everything, it is seen as not access-specific enough. But 
it's perfectly useful for accessibility. In fact, it is already used 
for accessibility. I know lots of page authors who never write a 
hyperlink or include an image without a title on each. And if the big 
screen readers cannot gain access to title text, they need to be 
upgraded; it's basic HTML.

So what I am suggesting is that title be explicitly included in WCAG 
2.0 as a form of text equivalent for a wide range of objects, 
including images and multimedia. I assume this would not be a 
difficult thing to include and would not require huge rewrites.
   Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org | <http://joeclark.org/access/>
   Accessibility articles, resources, and critiques ||
       "I can't pretend to understand the mind of Joe Clark"
       -- Larry Goldberg
Received on Tuesday, 4 December 2001 13:14:14 UTC

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