RE: Flickr and alt

Anne van Kesteren wrote:
> On Tue, 19 Aug 2008 02:38:13 +0200, Gez Lemon <>
> wrote: 
>> Why is it so important that inaccessible content should be considered
>> compliant?
> Because we might be able to suggest something more reasonable

I for one have been awaiting this suggestion for some time now.  Nothing has
emerged from the WG to suggest any real alternative.  Once a viable
suggestion emerges, then the discussion can continue in that vein.  Please
Anne, suggest something more reasonable, or table this line of debate.

> than
> making it compliant by just putting in some random string of
> characters. If some photosite did care about validation for one
> reason or another you might end up with alt="" everywhere, even on
> the significant photos.

According to the current draft, that would be non-conformant already, so
what are you suggesting exactly?

> This would preclude the photo from being
> detected and people who can't see the photo won't be able to pass it
> on to someone who does.

Anne, this was the outcome for when @alt was being considered optional

("I am currently following HTML5 (omitting alt) as it wasn't really clear to
me what would be a better solution given the single constrain I have: not
finding it necessary to provide replacement text for all those images." -

I am glad to see you have now come to understand at least one of the

> (Unless of course they use special tactics
> for that site to discover the photos, but that's not really improving
> the status quo I think.) 

Which shoots down the WHAT WG's earlier thoughts regarding "heuristic
analysis" of images without alt text...

> In other words, compliant content is not accessible per se, so trying
> to test accessibility on the compliance level seems like the wrong
> thing to do. It feels similar to all those people validating as XHTML
> Transitional happily using <font> and <table> for layout without
> having a clue as to what's going on.

Agreed.  Without a real cost to non-conformance, it is a moot point.  Yet
another reason to insist that all images must contain @alt - those that
choose to ignore this will have non-conformant content, but so what?

Now if HTML5 were to be brave enough to not render images that lacked @alt
(or another directly linked text alternative to visual content) then
conformance in this area would mean something.  It could be used to teach,
to inform, to ask that content authors raise the bar.  Those that choose not
to can always revert to HTML 4.01, which, while insisting on @alt does
nothing if/when that conformance requirement is omitted.  There is
precedence in this with the way that Internet Explorer dealt with quirks and
standard html as declared via the DTD, and funny enough content developers
learned that lesson quickly and added that knowledge to their daily

There is no debate that much of this comes down to pride of ownership, pride
of development, and simply wanting the best.  Striving for these goals is
important, desirable, and a Good Thing.  But weakening requirements so that
content owners and creators can have a "badge" of conformance does nobody
any real good.


Received on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 20:57:39 UTC