W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > October to December 1997

RE: ALT-attribute usage (fwd)

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <po@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 22:08:42 -0600
Message-ID: <01BCE96E.36F791C0.po@trace.wisc.edu>
To: "'Charles (Chuck) Oppermann'" <chuckop@MICROSOFT.com>, "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Chuck you wrote:
My point is that ALT is needed to give a *description* of the image.  In 
this example, that could be ALT="spinning red globe".  With the advent of 
TITLE, we can go back to using ALT for it's original intention.

I see your point with regard to TITLE.  If it is used to express the 
function then alt could be used for description.
However, if browsers are looking for function in the ALT  then function 
still needs to be there.  At least for foreseeable future.
Question:  if there is an alt and a title,   which appears on screen 
instead of the graphic?  I thought it was ALT.  Does it vary?

By the way. A bit of history.  I believe the original intention of ALT was 
for function though it is hard to say since it was used both ways.  It was 
introduced by the same group (in Kansas) that developed lynx and dos-lynx 
if I am remembering my conversation with them correctly from many years 
ago.  It was introduced to make pages make sense in lynx when the images 
are not there - as they never are in lynx.  Lynx users were generally less 
interested in what the images looked like than what they represented or 
were there to signify.   Decorative images however did get a descriptive 
ALT  (or they got ALT="").

Anyway.  Back to the present.
- Does anyone know when there is an alt and a title,   which appears on 
screen instead of the graphic?
- Should we be making a recommendation on this?
- Should our recommendation take into account the fact that TITLE is 
possible now?
- Will people do both - or are we likely to only see ALT?
- If we did use ALT as the primary FUNCTION description -(because function 
is the most important attribute and ALT is the most likely to be used) then 
what would be the best use of TITLE?
- If title is not used for function, then is this counterintuitive for the 
use of TITLE in other places for function?

Wish I had as many answers as questions.


-- ------------------------------
Gregg C Vanderheiden Ph.D.
Professor - Human Factors
Dept of Ind. Engr. - U of Wis.
Director - Trace R & D Center
gv@trace.wisc.edu    http://trace.wisc.edu
FAX 608/262-8848
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Received on Tuesday, 4 November 1997 23:16:52 UTC

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