Specifying longdesc to make it more useful, robust, and encourage better user agent implementation

Hello Everyone,

On March 10, 2011, Steve wrote [1]:

> If longdesc is included in HTML5 but fails to be specced/implemented
> to be useful and robust then it will be a failure.

On March 13, 2011, Paul wrote [2]:

> At the March 3 A11Y TF meeting I encouraged TF participants to
> work with WG members that were originally on the prevailing
> side of ISSUE-30 to see if it might be possible to get consensus
> within the WG even before May.  The Chairs will certainly NOT
> stand in opposition to a clear sense of consensus on any issue
> at any time.

I have been thinking about what Steve and Paul said.

So how could longdesc be specified to make it more useful and more
robust and encourage more implementation?

Currently the spec text that we have in the new proposal [3] to
reinstate longdesc into HTML is mostly from Chaals' original proposal
[4] which reuses parts of  HTML 4.

The details section of the new proposal could be revised to say that
user agents "may" (or perhaps "should"?) possess an option to reveal
the presence of longdesc to all users [5] (maybe mention UAAG [6]). It
could also include text about URI validity checking. To me, that would
make longdesc more useful and robust.

Bugs to improve those aspects longdesc were filed previously. They are:

* Bug 10019: Native user agent support for exposing longdesc to all users

* Bug 10015: longdesc URL checking:

I had been thinking of pursuing those bugs after longdesc was
reinstated into HTML. But I reopened bug 10019 and 10015 today so Ian
has an opportunity to fix them properly.

Does anyone have suggestions for HTML5 spec text to include longdesc
and make it more useful and more robust and encourage more


Best Regards,

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2011Mar/0237.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2011Mar/0289.html
[3] http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/InstateLongdesc#Details
[4] http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/longdesc
[5] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2011Mar/0268.html
[6] http://www.w3.org/html/wg/wiki/ChangeProposals/InstateLongdesc#User_Agent_Accessibility_Guidelines_2.0_on_longdesc

Laura L. Carlson

Received on Monday, 14 March 2011 17:16:30 UTC