W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > wai-xtech@w3.org > August 2008

Re: Flickr and alt

From: Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2008 16:13:22 +0100
Message-ID: <48AC3492.8030607@cfit.ie>
To: Anne van Kesteren <annevk@opera.com>
Cc: Gez Lemon <gez.lemon@gmail.com>, "Patrick H. Lauke" <redux@splintered.co.uk>, wai-xtech@w3.org, public-html@w3.org

Anne van Kesteren wrote:
> On Tue, 19 Aug 2008 02:38:13 +0200, Gez Lemon <gez.lemon@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Why is it so important that inaccessible content should be considered
>> compliant?
> Because we might be able to suggest something more reasonable than 
> making it compliant by just putting in some random string of characters. 

Well also hopefully by something more reasonable that saying that the 
@alt should be optional, though I agree that there are times when that 
may be the case, it *should* still be mandatory. Gez makes a very valid 
point about the need to raise the bar - not lower it. For example, 
keeping @alt mandatory is a certain standard in itself - making it 
optional - so poor tools and their output can be considered conformant 
or compliant - is tantamount to lowering the bar or standard, and in a 
sense makes a mockery of conformance.

Just to be clear there are different domains 1) Validation to basically 
a software algorithm or set of algorithms (no disrespect Henri) that 
checks for well formedness and conformance against a suitable chosen 
document type  2) Conformance to a more subjective qualitative standard 
such as WCAG 3) am a little unsure which domain "compliant content" 
refers to..?

> 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. 

If you mean compliance to a Validator then yes. Bear in mind that this 
is not an exact science. Sometimes content that conforms to WCAG can 
result in a site that *still* isn't great - in accessibility and 
practical usability terms - and while this quality assessment is largely 
subjective and it is more likely to be a better site  if built with this 
standard in mind. Either way conformance to WCAG is still an important 
benchmark to reach for. More so even than mere valid compliance or 
conformance to the HTML 5 spec or indeed HTML 4, at least from an 
accessibility perspective. There are plenty of invalid sites/webpages 
that are perfectly accessible.

>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.

In truth, accessible and usable websites can still be built using a 
XHTML transitional  DOCTYPEs, <font> elements and even <tables> for 
layout. Even though a site can still be considered conformant to a 
standard such as WCAG and still be pretty unusable we still need the 

This is not an exact science.


Received on Wednesday, 20 August 2008 15:14:11 UTC

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