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Re: Tagging question...

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2000 02:09:07 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: WAI Interest Group Emailing List <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
aloha, y'all!

i agree with karl and charles -- where the markup exists, use it -- 
particularly when the markup is endowed with attributes that increase 
accessibility, by providing contextual/semantic information about the 
element or the segment of the document in which it is used...

for example, prior to HTML4, i had to use an ugly hack in order to express 
logical divisions in documents, since the HR element in HTML 3.2 did not 
provide for alternative content, as it now does, courtesy of the title 

so, instead of using a kludge such as:

<img src="redline.gif" alt="Please Read The Fine Print (At Least Once!)">

i could use the title element, in conjunction with the HR element, thus:

<hr title="Please Read The Fine Print (At Least Once!)">


<hr title="End Terminal Index/Begin Validation Information">

which, incidentally, has the added benefit of not increasing the weight of 
the page for those with graphics turned on...

of course, the problem is that most adaptive technologies do not recognize 
(or offer their users the option of exposing) the title attribute for the 
horizontal rule element, whereas they do recognize the alt attribute...

which puts the page author between a rock and a hard place, which i think 
is bruce's point...  what is more important -- ensuring that content is as 
accessible as possible now, using work-arounds based on legacy technology, 
or pushing page authors to implement markup languages according to the 
specifications (and, of course, to check not only for accessibility, but 
validity) while concurrently advocating that mainstream user agent 
manufacturers expose the extended semantic information (such as title and 
label and legend et. al.) so that adaptive technology developers can 
program their products to convey such information to the end user, which 
is, after all, the point of the exercise...

of course, individual users should be able to configure their AT so as to 
provide them with as much or as little extended semantic information as 
that individual desires -- i personally would prefer an on-the-fly toggle 
for such a setting, for in some cases, i'd want to know what the horizontal 
rules signify, in others, i really don't care...

if you want to trace this skein back to 1997, start at Gregg Vanderheiden's 
post, with the subject line "Title on Horizontal Rule"
my comments at the time, archived at:

i too support a TITLE argument for horizontal rules, provided that the
explanation of how to use the TITLE appropriately is also included in
any discussion of using an ALT argument to signify a graphical line
break, so as to avoid meaningless ALT/TITLE texts such as:

         horizontal rule
         straight line
         a line incorporating the olympic colors
         squiggly decorative line

and the like...

when i have had occasion to use graphical dividers (i.e. red or green
bars), i have opted to either use the ALT tag either to mimic Lynx's
rendering of an HR

<p align=center><img src="redline.gif" height=4 width=600

if the division is a purely aesthetic one...  otherwise, i have used ALT
text in conjunction with a graphical rule/divider precisely because there
currently is no TITLE argument for the HR which would enable me to indicate
the purpose of the content that follows the divider, as in the following

<p align=center><img src="redline.gif" height=4 width=600
alt="The Fine Print: Please Read This Disclaimer at Least Once"></p>

or, when rendering an entire book, where it is often important to
communicate the actual pagination of the printed edition, i have resorted to
using the ALT kludge:

<p align=center><img src="thinline.gif" height=1 width=600
alt="Begin Printed Page 86"></p>

if the TITLE argument was adapted, it would then be possible to use the
less intrusive HR to indicate the printed edition's page breaks...


He that lives on Hope, dies farting
      -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1763
Gregory J. Rosmaita <unagi69@concentric.net>
    WebMaster and Minister of Propaganda, VICUG NYC
Received on Wednesday, 7 June 2000 02:18:25 UTC

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