Re: [html4all] HTML5 Alternative Text, and Authoring Tools

On May 13, 2008, at 12:50, Christophe Strobbe wrote:
> "Alt is one of the bolted on things."
> This one goes straight to the hall of shame.
> (The alt attribute is not perfect - being an attribute, it doesn't  
> allow markup inside it - but it is not "bolted on".)

You didn't substantiate your assertion. Instead, you tried to shame me.

The tactic of trying to shame people into accepting what you are  
saying without you giving an explanation that they can follow to  
verify the conclusion may be a successful tactic in some contexts, but  
one would hope that by now it would be clear that it's a tactic that  
is not working with many HTML WG participants. When it's not working,  
the effect just is that it creates an unpleasant working environment  
and perhaps makes people want to avoid accessibility topics.

I think in order to properly analyze what's going on, we need to set  
aside how we wish the world to be and examine how it is. I didn't say  
alt is bolted on for the sake of disagreeing. I think the realization  
is crucial for understanding why alt continues to be an issue. There  
are accessibility features with which you author once for all  
modalities. These don't even feel like accessibility features, because  
you get accessibility for "free". These features have accessibility  
built in. Then there are features that require dual authoring because  
authoring once doesn't cover some mode of presentation/interaction.  
These features bolt accessibility on. The trouble is getting people to  
do dual authoring. Therefore, other things being equal (and they  
rarely are), we should favor feature designs that you author once for.  
This is what HTML5 is doing with e.g. <progress> and Web Forms 2.0.

Alt is one of the things that require dual authoring and images will  
need it for the foreseeable future in order to be accessible. But alt  
is such an issue precisely because it's bolt-on. Vehemently asserting  
otherwise doesn't help in understanding what's actually going on and  
in making language design decisions.

(Aside: alt is also bolted on in the sense that it wasn't part of the  
original design of the <img> element.)

Henri Sivonen

Received on Wednesday, 14 May 2008 20:09:17 UTC