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RE: ALT as required attribute

From: Gerard Torenvliet <g_torenvliet@sympatico.ca>
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 14:34:14 -0500
To: "'Jim Ley'" <jim@jibbering.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <D9ABD8212AFB094C855045AD80FB40DD190025@1WFMAIL>


When I made the switch from IE to a Mozilla-based browser, I was initially
disappointed when this browser did not offer Alt attribute text on
mouse-over. It made my job as a designer more difficult, because I now
actually had to look at my code in parallel while auditing a page to check
the Alt text. This is a pain.

However, on reflection I've found it to be a good pain because it makes me
more conscientious. Instead of using Alt text first as an interface aid that
is presented on mouse-over, and second as a screen-reader aid, it forces me
to be more discriminating. Alt text should present text equivalents
(equivalents only, nothing more than a sighted reader would get through
looking at a graphic), and Title text can present additional interface aids.
In this way, things that benefit screen-readers only (i.e., "Iconic
representation of a report", or "Graphic of a man fishing from a dock")
don't clutter up the view for those who don't use screen-readers, and
interface aids are available to all.

The real problem here is Internet Explorer. By insisting to be
backwards-compatible with legacy (but non-standard) uses of the Alt
attribute and so displaying Alt text as a tooltip if Title text doesn't
exist, this browser fails to educate designers by example of the different
between Alt text and Title text.

Rather, it should follow the lead of Mozilla: support the HTML spec, even
when it can necessitate design changes. Mozilla's way of recognizing
backwards compatibility issues has been by offering plug-ins that turn on
the Alt as tooltip behaviour. This educates and encourages people to code
things to be specification compliant, precisely because it is cumbersome!

Best regards,

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of Jim Ley
Sent: Monday, February 03, 2003 1:54 PM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: Re: ALT as required attribute

"Bill Mason" <w3c@accessibleinter.net> wrote in message
> At 10:32 AM 2/3/2003, Jonathan Chetwynd wrote:
> >also the browsers you mention display a tooltip when the user mouses over
> >the image
> I don't know offhand about Opera or Amaya, but Netscape 7 in fact does not
> give a mouseover tooltip from the ALT attribute text.

Which is a real shame, it makes many sites much less accessible than they
otherwise would be, I have to really dig to get the information, fortunately
IE does not yet suffer from the same limitation so I still have a choice,
even though I have to put up with other inconveniences.

>  It correctly does that with the contents of the TITLE attribute.

When the title is unavailable though, this useful interface to the metadata
is just ignored, rather than used to provide other metadata.

Received on Monday, 3 February 2003 14:34:17 UTC

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