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Re: Creating accessible tables for layout and data: alt attributes

From: Jim Byrne <j.byrne@gcal.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 10:18:55 +0000
To: W3c_Access <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B87ECA8E.D94A%j.byrne@gcal.ac.uk>
I have had a read through the excellent articles by A.J.Flavell
(http://ppewww.ph.gla.ac.uk/~flavell/alt/alt-text.html) and Jukka Korpela
(http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/html/alt.html) as suggested by Jouni
Heikniemi. They both do a good job of clarifying the use of alt attributes
on Web pages.

As a solution to the possible problems created by my use of alt attributes
on the 'Table Manners' article (http://www.mcu.org.uk/book/tables.html) I
have added the text 'Decorative image:' followed by a description of the
image. I decided not to use an empty alt attribute for the following

The photos, although mostly decorative are used on occasion to add a
comment, or provide a humourous or analogous connections with the text.
These are not intended to be obvious and are not essential for understanding
of the text. An example would be the stop sign that is the first image on
the Table Manners article - in long hand I could be saying "Stop! you
shouldn't be using tables for layout", or I might not - the reader may or
may not make a connection. By providing some text descriptions of the photo
this 'function' is still retained.

It is useful for people browsing with images off to see what a photo is
about - and they can do this by reading the alt text. They may want to click
to load a particular image they are interested in.

I like to provide as much text on my pages as possible, just in case a
search engine robot comes along and decides to add my page to a searchable

Some people like to know what they are missing- even if they are browsing
with a text only browser.

I take all the photos myself and it makes me happy to provide descriptions
of them on my pages. This reason of course is purely selfish and doesn't add
a jot to the debate on how to use alt attributes on Web pages. :-)

All the best,

Jim Byrne Project Director, The Making Connections Unit, Glasgow Caledonian
University, Glasgow G4 OBA, 0141 331 3893

Everything you need to know about publishing accessible information on the

Services: Website Accessibility Audits, Accessible Web design, Accessible
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The Making Connections Unit: http://www.mcu.org.uk/
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Received on Thursday, 31 January 2002 05:19:07 UTC

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