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Re: Mandatory and Important

From: Matt Morgan-May <mattmay@adobe.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2008 11:53:01 -0700
To: Justin James <j_james@mindspring.com>, "'Laura Carlson'" <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>, "'Doug Schepers'" <schepers@w3.org>
CC: "'Karl Dubost'" <karl@w3.org>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, "'HTML WG'" <public-html@w3.org>, "'W3C WAI-XTECH'" <wai-xtech@w3.org>, <wai-liaison@w3.org>, "'John Foliot'" <foliot@wats.ca>, "'Gez Lemon'" <gez.lemon@gmail.com>, Al Gilman <Alfred.S.Gilman@IEEE.org>, <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>
Message-ID: <C4D3079D.D15E%mattmay@adobe.com>

On 8/21/08 7:25 AM, "Justin James" <j_james@mindspring.com> wrote:
> HTML authoring tools will gladly *not* provide error messages for this if user
> testing deems it too obnoxious.

First, I have to say that after 3 years working on the Authoring Tool
Accessibility Guidelines WG, prompting for @alt has never come up as an
issue with any tool vendor I've spoken with. The only issue is awareness
that this is needed. And ATAG doesn't even require that behavior, if the
user wants to shut it off. I consider this line of reasoning a red herring.

Second, I really have a problem with the argument that we should demand less
from authoring tool vendors because we don't want to annoy them. Tool
vendors, like everyone else in this ecosystem, are free to adopt or ignore
whatever they see fit to, and they do. Certainly over the last dozen or so
years, we have little experience with authoring tools (or UAs, or
authors...) actually implementing any spec 100%, so why should this be a
blocker here?

And if that _is_ a driving factor, then as a tool vendor, I'm rather annoyed
that Dreamweaver, which generates standards-compliant HTML 4.01 and XHTML
1.0-1.1 code, will now generate invalid table code in HTML5, since @summary
has gone away, and DW generates it by default, in conformance with WCAG and
ATAG. So, which is it? Do authoring tools already in the market matter, or

> @src is required for technical reasons...

No, you just think it is. I think you'll find that most people on "the
accessibility side" would argue that @alt is as necessary technically as
@src. And maybe some SemWeb folks would argue that @alt is _more_ necessary.

> But I also recognize that making @alt
> mandatory is more a matter of principle and less of an effective measure that
> will actually accomplish anything.

Then you've discounted all the people who have actually done @alt because
the validator says to. In every case I'm aware of where an opt-out becomes
an opt-in, performance rates plummet. An extreme example is spam: if it were
opt-in, who'd subscribe? Or voting: the US hovers around 45%. Australia,
with compulsory voting, is around 95%. You might raise the issue of quality
here, but frankly, I'd rather have 95% of images with @alt of mixed quality
and the other 5% invalid, than have 30% of images with @alt of good quality
and allowing the authors of the other 70% not to bother.

Received on Thursday, 21 August 2008 18:53:57 UTC

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