WCAG considering amending F65 to NOT fail missing ALT text if title or aria-label is present

On behalf of the WCAG working group, I have an action item to solicit
responses from the wider community regarding a proposed amendment to WCAG
failure technique F65 regarding missing ALT. Currently; if an <img> element
is missing from an ALT attribute the page fails WCAG SC 1.1.1 Level A. Some
are proposing that we allow authors to use the aria-label, aria-labelledby,
and title attributes INSTEAD of ALT. 

So under the amended failure technique NONE of the following would fail

<img src="../images/giraffe.jpg" title="Giraffe grazing on tree branches"/>

<img src="../images/giraffe.jpg" aria-label="Giraffe grazing on tree

<img src="../images/giraffe.jpg" aria-labelledby="123"/>
<p id="123"> Giraffe grazing on tree branches</p>

As you can imagine there are strong opinions all around on this so I
suggested we get a sense of what other groups such as the HTML5 A11y TF and
PF think.

Those in favour of the change provide the following rational: 

--These alternatives on the img element work in assistive technology
--The aria spec says these attributes should get an accessible NAME in the
--They say it's easy to teach beginner programmers to just always use an
aria label on everything, rather than requiring a label on form fields and
alt on images
--They feel as a failure F65 is very strong if fails a page for missing ALT,
especially if other things work, and they would like to soften it to allow
other things that work.
--html 5 allows a <figure><legend> combination instead of alt, so they feel
WCAG will have to change F65 anyway to allow a figure with a legend, and
that helps open the door to this discussion

Those in favour of the status quo (which fails missing alt text) provide the
following rational:

--aria-label, labelledby and title, are not really suitable attributes for
img alternative text because they implies a label or title, rather than an
alternate text, so it is not a semantic equivalent
--title is not well supported
--some feel that the aria spec is not in any way suggesting these as
replacements to ALT.
--aria instructs authors to use native html where possible, and they could
not come up with viable use cases of omitting alt text
--there are hundreds of millions of dollars invested in current evaluation
tools, and methodologies, and this would represent a major departure from
one of the most basic accessibility convention, that is almost as old as the
web and is the "rock star" of accessibility
--it could cost a lot of money to change guidance to developers etc..., and
muddy the waters on a very efficient current evaluation mechanism
--when the figure/legend is supported by AT we can amend F65 but that is a
different issue and the semantics of this construct are OK for text
alternatives, rather than the label/labelledby/title options
--it may cause some confidence problems to WCAG legislation, because it
represents a strong loosening to a fundamental Success Criteria, an
unnecessary change that doesn't help the cause of accessibility, but just
complicates things
--ALT is better supported and the text appears when images are turned off.
--initial twitter feedback from the community is strongly against changing
this failure

There are probably other reasons on both sides which we hope to hear ... but
these should start it off. Please give your opinions and reasons.
Current technique here:
Proposed failure here (see test procedure)

David MacDonald

CanAdapt Solutions Inc.
Tel:  613.235.4902
  Adapting the web to all users
            Including those with disabilities

Received on Friday, 22 November 2013 23:28:13 UTC