W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > January to March 2003

Re: talking about text alternatives Re: ALT as required attribute

From: Joe Clark <joeclark@joeclark.org>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 18:46:28 -0500 (EST)
To: WAI-IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.BSO.4.40.0302051240550.11928-100000@ns1.seeto.com>

> An interesting proposition.

"Distracting," "off-base," or "frustrating," you meant, shurely?!

> I certainly think that talking about "the alt attribute" instead of
> talking about text alternatives in case the imagery isn't clear has
> been a mistake.


WAI has spent years trying to persuade Web developers to add alt
attributes. Now that it's happening, WAI churlishly declares that it
was a mistake all along?

What is this, the last episode of _Dallas_?

Here in the real world-- you know, the one where nobody uses Amaya--
the img element *is* the way images are included on Web pages. The
alt attribute is the first and the essential step to making images

> Not least because the alt attribute is limited to the
> img element,

Tautological. (You do realize that input also can take alt?

> and isn't what is generally considered the best way to
> provide for alternative text

In the *img element*, it is. Shall we check the Techniques?

Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element
       (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content).

Note the order of presentation: *alt* first. title isn't even
mentioned, consistent with the WAI's inability to accept the utility
of an attribute that can be applied nearly everywhere.

> SVG[,]

which is virtually unused by real-world designers, who are not the
uninformed and ignorant dolts the W3C tends to assume they are,

> uses child elements instead which
> can bring a few advantages and is more like what the XML accessibility
> guidelines suggest

not that such guidelines are in any significant way relevant to
*HTML* accessibility. But are we getting back to that topic?

> HTML provides alt, title, longdesc, and the fact
> that images can be explained in accompanying text (this is something
> that is particularly good in print and I wish was done better and more
> often).

You're essentially saying that alt can be left out of the img
element (validation be damned) because someone could later come
along and-- the recurring WCAG shibboleth-- generate a text
description. As far as the WAI is concerned, it isn't real Web
content unless it's in words.

As for the topic of using object instead of img, some browsers choke
on it, and the Techniques specifically warn against using HTML
features that do not work in some user agents:

Content developers must consider backward compatibility when
   Web pages or sites since:
     * Some user agents do not support some HTML features,
     * People may use older browsers or video players,
     * Compatibility problems may arise between software

An image is an image more than it's an object.

The recommendation to use object ignores the real-world fact that
alt is sufficient to make many, if not most, images accessible.


  Joe Clark  |  joeclark@joeclark.org
  Author, _Building Accessible Websites_
  <http://joeclark.org/access/> | <http://joeclark.org/book/>
Received on Wednesday, 5 February 2003 18:46:55 UTC

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