Re: [html4all] New issue: IMG section of HTML5 draft contradicts WCAG 1 & WCAG 2 (draft)

On 4/11/08 1:24 PM, "Ian Hickson" <> wrote:

> On Fri, 11 Apr 2008, Matt Morgan-May wrote:
>> However, for those who do validate, requiring alt is the only way to get
>> the author to signal his or her intent. To remove that barrier forces us
>> to assume that _all_ instances of <img> without alt present on the web
>> simply couldn't be expressed throws out the bathwater, the baby, the
>> tub, the pipes, and a chunk of the sewer line.
> I think validators should still warn about missing alt="" -- after all,
> the case for which omitting alt is allowed is still quite rare.

Warnings are readily ignored, especially in bulk. What we have right now
with missing alt is an error, and those are not. That's why we like the
status quo, and why reducing missing alt text to a warning has many of us up
in arms.

If you allow alt to become optional in order to satisfy user-uploaded
content requirements, then accessibility evaluation and repair tools have no
way of knowing whether you omitted it purposely, or out of ignorance. And I
am certain that the number of people who omit it out of ignorance will
ensure that its omission will not, in fact, be "quite rare," but rather more
like the default.

You can define the exception case that warrants a missing alt attribute as
narrowly as you like in the spec, but you know as well as I do that people
aren't going to read the spec for guidance at that level, if they read it at
all. (I bet there are a few semantic nuances of HTML 4 that would surprise
even some people reading this thread, and it's 10 years old.)

Further, I think that while user-generated content is a popular category of
web content, it's just one such category, and since there are any number of
other kinds of content for which no such exception should exist, there's no
justification to turn the rules around on alt solely for the benefit of
those sites. 

>> Even if there is no reasonable text equivalent, there's nothing to say
>> that a blind user wouldn't want to be informed of that image.
> Exactly. But if you give alt="", the image will be removed from the output
> stream, _without_ telling the user about its existence.

Exactly. Which, as I said, is why I would suggest that sites like Flickr
generate a non-empty alt text, for example, equivalent to the title of the
photo, or failing that, even something as basic as "user-uploaded image".
Neither an empty alt nor alt="" is satisfactory.


Received on Friday, 11 April 2008 22:24:59 UTC