Re: Animated GIFs and accessibility guidelines

Animated GIFs shouldn't be a problem, since they can be stopped by any browser that can display them (at least among the major browsers - I'm not sure if this is true for WebTV or other "internet appliances").

On the Bobby site, listing the sponsors wouldn't be appropriate for the ALT text, but would be appropriate for a LONGDESC. The designers may have decided that since the image is a link to detailed information about their sponsors, that wasn't necessary. I'd say it's a judgement call, and an defensible choice. However, running Bobby against that page, in the Priority 1 User Checks it says:

   "Do you have a descriptive (D) link in addition to LONGDESC?"

which - regardless of conformance with the WAI guidelines - suggests that the site doesn't actually implement what the Bobby designers consider to be "best practices." There are several other areas, such as in the extensive use of tables for layout, where the site appears to move away from theoretical ideals. On the other hand, the site seems to work, which to me is by far the most important concern. The WAI guidelines, are, after all, guidelines. They're intended to help people develop accessible sites, but if the focus becomes adherence to every checkpoint, instead of the overall goal of accessibility, they've failed in their purpose.

Another question related to that site - they've got a link to skip the navigation stuff and go directly to the content, which is great. The link, however, is a transparent gif, with the ALT text providing the description of how it's to be used. Will screen readers currently in use pick this up properly?

>>> Brian Kelly <> 02/15/01 04:08AM >>>
Guideline 7 at 
"Ensure that moving, blinking, scrolling, or auto-updating objects or pages
may be paused or stopped."
"Until user agents allow users to freeze moving content, avoid movement in

How does this apply to animated GIFs?

Does it apply, for example, to the animated sponsorship ads at, for example, 

I understood that movement on screens could cause screen readers to lose
their focus.  Does this happen with animated GIFs?  If so, is this a

Also, while looking at the Bobby page, the alt text for the GIF simply says
"Scrolling list of sponsors, without mentioning their names (IBM, Microsoft,
etc.).  Again does this conform to the WAI guidelines?

Like Nick, I don't want to pick on the Bobby site or the CAST staff, but it
is a Web site that those with interests in accessibility will look at.


Brian (hoping this isn't an FAQ)

Brian Kelly
University of Bath
Phone: (+44) 1225 323943

Received on Thursday, 15 February 2001 11:55:07 UTC