Re: Drop longdesc, get aria-describedat?

Hi laura, thanks for the references.

Why obsolete but conforming is OK for me.

   - Support for longdesc in browsers and AT is poor and has been so for
   many years.

   - Adding a longdesc without an alternative method of access to the long
   description results in many users with disabilities being unable to access
   the content or even being aware that the content is there.


On 8 March 2012 18:06, Laura Carlson <> wrote:

> Hi Steve,
> > "My druthers would be to accept longdesc right away and call it obsolete
> > but conforming. That clearly signals that a replacement is expected
> > while providing needed functionality right away--the same it has been
> > available since html 4. As I said, this is my
> > preference. Others may have other views."
> >
> > I  find that to be an acceptable compromise.
> First, two references:
> 1. Regarding conforming but with a warning the HTML Chairs' Decision
> on ISSUE-30, stated:
> "The weakest proposal was the one that makes longdesc conforming but
> with a warning...there was a strong argument which is unique to this
> proposal: if longdesc is conforming, user agents will be required to
> support it; if there is a validator warning, users will be discouraged
> from using it. This combination is the worst of all possibilities.
> Eliminating this proposal early made the process of coming to a
> resolution simpler." [1]
> 2. Obsolete but conforming features trigger HTML5 warnings with advice
> to use a specific and different solution. [2]
> Now, why obsolete but conforming is unacceptable to me:
> A warning for a proper longdesc is simply wrong. People should not be
> reprimanded for doing the right thing. On the contrary, they should be
> applauded.
> It has been substantially evidenced via the documentation of over
> fourteen hundred real world examples of longdesc that authors do
> indeed use this attribute in practice to improve accessibility. This
> is a non-negligible number of examples that utilize longdesc in
> meaningful ways. All of the images in those examples would be
> significantly less accessible (some even totally inaccessible) without
> it.
> Breaking both compatibility with existing best practice (and
> documentation of the same), as well as requiring a wide range of
> tools, content, and authoring guidance to be updated in order to
> achieve compatibility with a replacement for longdesc - for something
> meant to solve the SAME problem, is an intolerable cost. It would be
> an illogical undue burden and unacceptable to authors and
> organizations that have already made investments in the use of
> longdesc.
> Longdesc solves problems and makes things better. Other proposed
> solutions do not meet requirements and do not have an existing
> critical support base of tools and educational materials.
> Longdesc strengthens the language. Other techniques are either
> nonexistent, retrograde, or makeshift substitutes that do not directly
> provide the valuable semantics and critical backwards compatibility
> that longdesc does. No better technical solution exists.
> People with disabilities would be the losers if longdesc were made
> obsolete but conforming. It would be an unnecessary atrocity on
> authors and users with disabilities.
> Best Regards,
> Laura
> [1]
> [2]
> --
> Laura L. Carlson

with regards

Steve Faulkner
Technical Director - TPG | |
HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives -
Web Accessibility Toolbar -

Received on Friday, 9 March 2012 10:50:17 UTC