W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > January to March 2002

Re: Empty Alt Tags

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2002 07:22:07 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200202220722.g1M7M7702430@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> What is the proper way to implement an "empty" alt tag: with a space (alt=" ") 
> or without a space (alt="")?

This was only asked a couple of days ago.

The correct way of indicating that the image is meaningless and should
be completely ignored is alt="".  alt=" " inserts a space, which might
cause it to be included in indexes of images and might have an
affect on the layout.  Where browsers implement alt as "tool tips" it 
may cause an empty tool tip.  alt=" " may be appropriate if the
image functions as a space, and there is no other white space in
the source.

alt=" " should never be generated as a default by any tool as
defaulting to alt="" has already made the use of alt=" " a pragmatic
solution to providing accessibility to pages created by the bulk of
authors who have no accessibility brief.  The problem is that assistive
technology has to compensate for normal web designers and try to
use file names in contexts where the lack of alt text is laziness, rather
than deliberate suppression.

So, for authors, the correct answer is alt="", but the pragmatic answer
may be alt=" ".  For tools, preferably the tool should make it
more difficult to suppress the alt text than to provide one, but market
force mean that that will not happen, but otherwise, should use alt=""
as a default, if they are not prepared to default to alt="[noise.gif]".
Received on Friday, 22 February 2002 02:22:11 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 20:36:07 UTC