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Re: ALT as required attribute

From: Bill Mason <w3c@accessibleinter.net>
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2003 07:41:18 -0800
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

At 02:14 AM 2/4/2003, Jim Ley wrote:
> > My point about Mozilla not displaying Alt text as a tool tip was this: If
> > Alt text isn't supposed to be displayed as a tool tip, it should not be. By
> > no longer displaying Alt as a tooltip, Mozilla follows specifications.
>Which specification says that ALT should not be provided on tooltip?

Of course, one can pedantically say the specification does not say anything 
specific about tooltip and ALT.  But it does clearly say that the attribute 
is to "specify alternate text to serve as content when the element cannot 
be rendered normally."  Thus in scenarios where the image has rendered 
normally, the ALT content should not be presented by a user agent in any 
fashion, tooltip or otherwise.  If the user wants to find a way to make it 
so, whether via plug-in or some advanced CSS in a user style sheet, good 
for the user.

>Does my browser which provides a link to longdesc on mouseover not a valid
>browser because of that behaviour?

No, since LONGDESC is not alternative content.

>Why are specifications mandating how semantic mark-up be rendered, doesn't 
>that just make it visual mark-up?

The specification is not mandating how.  It's mandating when, where ALT is 

> > Iconography is a tricky issue. I would suggest that the websites you use
> > that have poor iconography (i.e., that which some users cannot understand)
> > should avail themselves of the use of both the Title tag and a trained
> > graphic designer.
>Why, I'm pretty rare in not understanding icons, and a graphic designer
>would not change things, I've discussed this with others in large groups and
>I'm alone in not understanding the icon.  Using the TITLE would be wrong,

Providing that sort of *additional* information is exactly what TITLE is 
specified for.

>and would just lead to misuse of title as we've seen with misuse of ALT,
>that would hardly improve things.

In this particular situation, it seems that you want the user agent's 
default behavior to misuse ALT more than any coder is misusing it.

> > There is nothing wrong with using the same text in both
> > Alt and Title; my point is that they can be different.
>I think having them the same is distinctly odd and would only be right in
>special cases, they're defined differently so would rarely be the same text.


> > Also note that the HTML 4.01 specification does allow for the use of Title
> > as a tool-tip; for alt text the door to this usage is not even opened.
>It gives examples of how it might be rendered, it doesn't prohibit, or
>require any particular rendering or action.

It does specify the timing on when to do a specific action -- render the 
ALT content -- that precludes saying that a tooltip rendering matches the 

> > Finally, on my point of education, I agree that users should be served. I
> > believe that users are best served by user agents that insist on
> > standards-compliant HTML.
>A recent Masters thesis found 0.71% of pages were valid, let alone compliant
>to the rest of the specification.  That would hardly be a useful user agent.


Bill Mason
Accessible Internet
Received on Tuesday, 4 February 2003 10:42:16 UTC

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