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Re: Investigating the proposed alt attributerecommendations in HTML 5


From: Debi Orton
Date: Aug 30, 2007 10:00AM

At 10:58 AM 8/30/2007, Stephanie Sullivan wrote:


>To me, it puts it in the realm of that "relying on the user to
>understand and make the right choice" problem which exists in much of
>the accessibility world. Those of us that do lots of web support and
>send people to the validator to sort out problems, before we spend
>time dissecting what odd coding issue they've created, know the value
>of having the alt required. Many of these newer developers (or maybe
>they're not new, they've just never run a page through the validator
>and don't keep up with our business) haven't a clue that they should
>use an alt attribute. Yes, here at WebAIM, it seems ludicrous. But I
>see it every day. Every. Day.
>To me, the benefits of having it required far outweigh the possible
>downside in a few unique situations. You're now leaving it up to
>developers to read the specs and know what things might be a good
>idea. They don't do it. Thus, we lose an accessibility hook that in
>nearly all cases is the best option. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what
>cases exist where the alt becomes a negative attribute?
>Stephanie Sullivan
>Dreamweaver Task Force for WaSP

Not to mention all of the newly-minted web developers whose only
training was in application development, where the words 'usability'
and 'accessibility' have not yet entered the lexicon.

Here's one personal example. Last spring two co-workers and I
attended a week-long XML class. Out of 13 students, we three were
the only ones who had ever coded a web page.

When we got to the XSLT portion of the class, the instructor -- a
very knowledgable man with regard to XML as a programming tool --
provided code examples that would have choked a validator (e.g.,
'FONT,' CENTER,' omission of closing tags -- all this in a document
with an XHTML doctype).

I pointed out that NYS had a policy with regard to the accessibility
of web content, and his reaction was "That's nice, but what does it
have to do with XML?" Surely NY government can't be the only
organization in which this migration is occurring.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that REQUIRING accommodations is the only
way to ensure accessible content.

Debi Orton