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Re: Request for clarification of the case where 'the image isn't discussed by the surrounding text, but it has some relevance'

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2008 09:42:38 +0000 (UTC)
To: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Cc: W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, "public-html@w3.org WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0808230937050.14795@hixie.dreamhostps.com>

On Mon, 18 Aug 2008, Steven Faulkner wrote:
> So would the example below be non-conforming?
> <h1>The Lady of Shalott</h1>
> <p><img src="shalott.jpeg" alt="Painting of woman in a small boat on a
> river in the countryside. A tapestry trails behind her in the water
> and there is a lantern, candles and a crucifix on the prow of the
> boat. She wears a white dress and has long loose hair."></p>
> <p>On either side the river lie<br>
> Long fields of barley and of rye,<br>
> That clothe the wold and meet the sky;<br>
> And through the field the road run by<br>
> To many-tower'd Camelot;<br>
> And up and down the people go,<br>
> Gazing where the lilies blow<br>
> Round an island there below,<br>
> The island of Shalott.</p>"

Yes, this is non-conforming. The above has two problems; first it makes 
the page harder to understand for uses navigating the page without images, 
because it blends a description with a poem without a clear separation 
(which would be especially problematic in a speech rendering, since even 
the cue from the positioning of the line breaks would be lost); and second 
it brings in useless information that doesn't help the user.

Now, if the page author had intended the image to be more than just 
decorative, e.g. if he wanted to show the image as an interpretation of 
the poem, then non-blank alternative text would be needed. For example, 
something like:

 <p>The Lady of Shalott is both a painting and a poem. Compare and 
 contrast their features:</p>
  <legend>The painting</legend>
  <p><img src="shalott.jpeg" alt="The painting shows a woman in a small 
  boat on a [...and so on...]"></p>
  <legend>The poem</legend>
  <p>On either side the river lie<br>
  [...and so on...]</p>

I haven't included this example, because we already have some examples 
along these lines before the detailed alt="" section at the end of the 
main <img> section, but if you think it would be helpful nonetheless 
please do let me know.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Saturday, 23 August 2008 09:42:56 UTC

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