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alt tags - a moot point?

From: Benjamin J. Simpson <bsimpson@arc.nasa.gov>
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 17:16:06 -0700
Message-ID: <001601bfec5f$8cff40d0$bb836680@arc.nasa.gov>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
While updating the accessibility features of a company web page, I had a discussion with a coworker on an accessibility point.  I'd be interested in hearing the opinions of this mailing list on them.  It has to do with creating alt tags.

Q: What alt tag should a graphic link that represents text have?  (ie, home.gif - a gif that is the word 'home')

A1: The alt tag text is the same as the graphical text. (alt="Home")
A2: The alt tag provides alternative content. The text provides a more detail about what the link points at.  (alt="Yahoo's home page")

I support A1, because if I were using Lynx to view the page, I would want to see "Home".  Also, I imagine that a person using a screenreader would not want to hear the longer alt tag, and would also prefer "Home".

Its a given that "Home" could be taken out of context on Lynx or a screenreader. By that I mean that the user would not know what home page the "Home" link pointed to.  However, if that was the case, it is likely that the graphic would also be misunderstood.  As such, if one version is in danger of being misinterpreted, then both are.  In that situation, the graphic should be changed to read "Yahoo's Home Page", in addition to the text.

I do admit that exceptions should be made, but as a general and attempted practice, programmers should keep the alt tag of a graphic the same as the graphic's words.

What do you think?

Thank you for your time,

Benjamin J. Simpson
Education Associate, Web Development Group
NASA Ames Research Center
email: bsimpson@mail.arc.nasa.gov
(650) 604-3292
Received on Wednesday, 12 July 2000 20:16:19 UTC

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