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Re: Flickr and alt

From: Patrick H. Lauke <redux@splintered.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2008 23:45:04 +0100
Message-ID: <48A9FB70.5000006@splintered.co.uk>
To: David Poehlman <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>
CC: Eric Eggert <w3c@yatil.de>, Jon Barnett <jonbarnett@gmail.com>, "Philip TAYLOR (Ret'd)" <P.Taylor@rhul.ac.uk>, Anne van Kesteren <annevk@opera.com>, James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>, Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, public-html@w3.org

David Poehlman wrote:
> I disagree.  if they can upload images through a web browser, they can write 
> an alt.  Now, the issue is and I agree it is an edge case that many of the 
> photos are transmitted via different means.  Are they still accompanied by 
> text which explains or can be used to replace them?  Why build a ramp to the 
> building if I can't fit through the door?

As both an accessibility advocate and avid Flickr user, I'll break my 
lengthy silence on this issue here for a second with some thoughts...

For many users, myself included, Flickr is a personal online photo 
storage, where I can then choose to share my photos with friends. It's 
an online extension of my local photo filestore, with the ability to 
open it up to others easily. Now, I usually write reasonable titles and 
descriptions, backed up with some accurate tagging etc. But often, I do 
bulk uploads of 50+ images in one go. In the latter case, my titles are 
usually generic (until I get a chance to retitle the odd shot or two) 
and descriptions are blank or generic as well. And if there was an 
additional field to input alt text, I'd keep it generic as well in bulk 
uploads. Now, this is "bad", but for my purpose and view of Flickr I'm 
fine with it. It's my personal choice, and it fits with my current need 
- to share my photographs with friends and loved ones, all of which can 
see. It is quite distinct from a public website. My intention when 
uploading to Flickr is not to publish to the public, but publish to a 
very specific known group of people. Using it as an example of when to 
require alt or not is a red herring, in my opinion.

On a broader subject, to me this whole debate (and the ones we had ages 
ago about table headers etc) comes down to: is it the job of the HTML 
spec to *mandate* accessibility, or is it to simply provide all the 
building blocks, all the hooks that enable authors to produce accessible 
markup, and removes those known to cause inaccesible markup (e.g. purely 
presentational elements)? As a separate example from alt, should table 
markup fail formal validation in the absence of proper thead, tbody, th, 
etc? Or is it enough that the spec still contains these constructs, but 
doesn't mandate them?

Sorry, a bit rambly and incongruous, but hopefully you catch my drift 

Patrick H. Lauke
re·dux (adj.): brought back; returned. used postpositively
[latin : re-, re- + dux, leader; see duke.]
www.splintered.co.uk | www.photographia.co.uk
Co-lead, Web Standards Project (WaSP) Accessibility Task Force
Received on Monday, 18 August 2008 22:46:22 UTC

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