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Re: Bobby inaccuracy?

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 09:00:24 -0800
Message-ID: <3C446028.60101@munat.com>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Scarlett Julian (ED) wrote:

> Not sure about leaving out the word logo though. To my mind if the alt text
> was just Sheffield City Council there would be no telling whether it was a
> photo of all Councillors or the Council's crest/coat of arms, or a photo of
> the town hall...you get the idea. I think the combination of alt text and
> title that you suggest solves it nicely but for succinctness I think I'll
> stick with including "logo" in the alt text.


Unfortunately, your decision to keep the word "logo" indicates that you 
still do not quite understand the function of the alt attribute. The alt 
attribute text is used to *replace* the image. That means that it serves 
the same function as the image. It is *not* a label for the image.

I can tell you right now that the majority of your users do not give a 
damn that there is a Sheffield City Council logo on your page. The 
information of importance to them is that this page is associated with 
the Sheffield City Council. This function is provided exhaustively by 
the words "Sheffield City Council" alone.

If you believe that the word logo is necessary to disambiguate the logo 
from a picture of the council members, then you are mislabeling photos. 
If you have a picture of the Sheffield City Council members or the town 
hall and you label it with a simple "Sheffield City Council," then what 
is the point? What information does this convey to the user who can't 
see the photo?

Effectively, you are saying to this user, there is a photo of something 
here but you can't see it. Too bad for you, eh? IMO, that's simply an 
annoyance. If you're not going to provide any real information, why 
bother? Just leave the alt attribute blank.

A better solution is to provide a description of the photo (via longdesc 
and/or a d-link), so that the non-visual user can get similar 
information to that provided by the user. For the logo, the alt 
attribute should be "Sheffield City Council". If you want to make users 
aware that this is a logo, simply add title="Logo". But if you do that, 
go the extra mile and add a description (longdesc and/or d-link) leading 
to a description of the logo. Otherwise, you are just telling non-visual 
users that there is information there worth knowing, but that you're not 
going to bother to provide it to them.

Similarly, with a photo of the council members or the town hall, add a 
d-link with a description of the image and leave the alt blank -- unless 
there is some key tidbit of info the image is supposed to provide, e.g., 
alt="Note: There are five women and three men on the council." Be aware, 
however, that not all browsers expand the alt attribute text completely, 
so if the text is larger than the image, some sighted users with images 
disabled will not be able to read it: yet another reason to keep your 
alt attributes succinct.

Hope this clarifies things a bit. While the alt attribute is widely 
misunderstood, its intended use is not controversial.

Charles F. Munat
Seattle, Washington
Received on Tuesday, 15 January 2002 11:59:12 UTC

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