W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > July to September 2000

Textual Images vs. Styled Text, Round Three *ding*

From: Bailey, Bruce <Bruce_Bailey@ed.gov>
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2000 09:39:08 -0400
Message-ID: <AF196F44735ED411B93A00508BDFB1080E42B9@WDCROBEXC09>
To: "'w3c-wai-ig@w3.org'" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Cc: "'Kynn Bartlett'" <kynn-edapta@idyllmtn.com>

Thank you for getting us back on track with this post.

I realize that mainstream web authors are not about to give up textual
images.  That's fine.  They don't claim AA conformance -- and so long as
they have the requisite ALT tags behind the textual images -- I am not going
to make a stink about their site.  Author aren't going to give up using
tables for layout either -- but they don't claim AAA conformance -- so few
of us complain about that.

Kynn, your post below very lucidly highlights the significant accessibiltiy
problems with textual images.  Yet I read your earlier messages on this
thread as being something we should not worry about too much.  Len is not
saying the WCAG "forbids" textual images (that word is reserved for P1
issues).  He is arguing that it _is_ a P2 violation, and so should be
avoided by those that care.

I, and others too I'll bet, am still waiting to hear from some of the folks
who claim AA (or AAA) compliance, but still employ this technique.  What is
the rational?

Kynn, what is wrong with acknowledging that the bar for level AA compliance
is, in fact, just as high as Len suggests?

P.S.:  One other reason for avoiding textual images (and for using CSS) is
that they look terrible in print.  Is your website useful?  Then people are
probably referring to printed hard copies.  Textual images print at the
resolution of the screen (e.g., 72 dpi) and not the resolution of the
printer (e.g. 300 dpi).  Those beautiful 24 bit color anti-aliased menu
folder tabs that look so good on the screen often look incredibly amateurish
in black and white!

Cheers, Bruce

> -----Original Message-----
> At 03:43 PM 9/27/2000 , William Loughborough wrote:
>>WL: The reason I'm sure that I do need to make the point 
>> "forcefully" is that somehow it has been allowed to slip by 
>> that images of text are a special case of images. They are not. 
> Actually, I disagree, there _is_ a special case of textual images
> (and it's what Len identified when he started this discussion).
> When images are used to represent text, that text is no longer
> affected by the user's controls over text size/font/color.  This
> is also true when images are representing non-textual information
> as well (such as a picture of my dog).  In the dog picture
> scenario, the user has no expectation that her text settings will
> apply to the size of the image of the dog.
> However, in the textual image scenario, the user has every reason
> to expect that her text settings _will_ apply to the buttons and
> headings which were made as graphics.  Why?  Because the user is
> not expected to have to differentiate between "text" and "images
> as text" -- they appear the same to the end user, they're "words
> on the screen."
> Len is correct in identifying this as a special case that needs
> to be dealt with, because it can introduce problems which are
> unique to textual images -- most obviously, "how can you allow
> the user to scale up images where the text is too small for her
> to read?"
> (There is a similar problem with images which are too small to
> view -- you may not be able to discern my dog if the picture is
> tiny -- but there is no user expectation that her "increase font
> size" button will work.)
> Textual images obviously do introduce an accessibility hurdle
> because they break the "change font size" function in the browser,
> which may be essential for many users with low vision.  The only
> question now is "what should be done about that and who should
> do something about it?"  Len proposes that WCAG 1.0 forbids the
> use of textual images, because HTML+CSS can be used; I maintain
> that it is not an acceptable solution and that we need to look
> a little harder.
> There is no obvious, easy solution and it's not simply a case of
> declaring that "images are images".
Received on Friday, 29 September 2000 09:39:41 UTC

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