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Alt Text (Was: Re: Bobby inaccuracy?)

From: Liz Roberts <liz@netlogix.net>
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 13:08:06 -0500
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B869DA35.1ABC7%liz@netlogix.net>
> Hope this clarifies things a bit. While the alt attribute is widely
> misunderstood, its intended use is not controversial.

Every time a question about alt attributes appears on the list, a plethora
of answers--many contradictory--follow.

These are poorly written, but here's what I've gleaned from the list to do:

1. the alt attribute should be a text _equivalent_; convey the same
information/serve the same purpose as the image.

2. place a period after appropriate alt text to stop the flow of text
(obviously the exception is when this stoppage is undesirable).

3. use alt="" for spacer images or similar types of graphics/etc that don't
have specific meaning.  (I didn't say this very well, sorry.)

But I've still got questions, and I'm sure my three previous (personal)
"rules" will be disputed (please do so).

- Is alt="" or alt=" " better?  (There was a debate on this a while back; I
got lost.)

- If I describe a double helix in a document and accompany this document
with an image of a double helix, what alt text should the image have?  What
about if it's a document about beach vacation properties and it has images
of the water and people playing in the sand?

- In that same vein, do these or similar "window dressing" images merit a
longdesc?  (And how well is longdesc supported by assitive technologies?)

Additionally, I've had ADA compliance officers who work for some of the
organizations we do work for tell me not to use alt=" " and _always_ specify
a meaning.  So if your header graphic has three pieces, have "My Great
Homepage (graphic 1 of 3).", "My Great Homepage (graphic 2 of 3).", etc.  I
can't quite deal with that one as I know I wouldn't want to hear this junk.
Any idea why an ADA guru would recommend that? (When I challenged the idea,
the answer was "because of how assitive technologies work: if you have alt
equals blank, it will read the image name.")

FWIW, I would second Charles' opinion to just use "Sheffield City Council."
The purpose this graphic serves here is as your identifying title.

Finally, a quick apology: I feel this might not be the best place for these
questions, but this is--ironically--the only accessibility list I've found
with any traffic!

Received on Tuesday, 15 January 2002 13:20:32 UTC

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