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Re: Investigating the proposed altattributerecommendations in HTML 5


From: Vlad Alexander (XStandard)
Date: Aug 30, 2007 10:40AM

Andrew wrote:

> <img src="spacer.gif" alt="" /> is identical to <img
> src="spacer.gif" /> semantically.
That may be true for decorative images. But it certainly is not true for non-decorative images such as photos or diagrams. The HTML 5 spec _is_ advocating making the the alt text optional for non-decorative images such as photos. So it is condoning the practice of making Web content that is not accessible by people who cannot see. That is wrong. The Web should be accessible to everyone, not only for some groups of people.


-------- Original Message --------
From: Andrew Kirkpatrick
Date: 2007-08-30 12:14 PM
>>> I think that your page highlights why
>>> it is necessary to use the alt attribute on images, but it doesn't
>>> address what the downside of not requiring the alt
>> attribute for all
>>> images.
>> Can you expound on that Andrew?
> The basic idea that is being advocated in HTML5 is that alt should be
> used when it is needed. If alt has a null value, then it isn't really
> needed, so could be omitted. There are lots of attributes that function
> in this way, and I'm arguing that since there isn't additional value in
> requiring alt for images that don't need it, alt can be treated this way
> without adverse affects.
> Steve's page is mostly highlighting what happens if you don't use the
> alt attribute when it is needed, and there are known problems for users.
> This isn't really the point, since alt is still allowed on images.
> Requiring alt on all images would mean that pages (assuming that they
> are valid) containing images would have alt attributes, but nothing to
> ensure that the alt attributes have values or useful values.
>> 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
> Do you think that we're not not now in that realm anyway?
>> ludicrous. But I see it every day. Every. Day.
> I'm not exactly cloistered away on the WebAIM list all day... :)
> I don't have a real objection to alt being required or not. All I want
> to point out is that there is nothing inherently wrong about having it
> not be. <img src="spacer.gif" alt="" /> is identical to <img
> src="spacer.gif" /> semantically. Either way, Dreamweaver will still
> prompt for alt when you insert an image, but you are correct that people
> who only find out about accessibility is by validating their site will
> lose an opportunity to educate themseleves. On the other hand, we won't
> have any one doing a find and replace for '<img' and replacing it with
> '<img alt=""' to get by the validator. If a page has no alt values,
> then it is laid bare that they haven't attended to accessibility (unless
> they ONLY use spacer images).
> Images are probably less of an issue than form labels. Should we
> require the id attribute on inputs and the for attribute on label
> elements? Require the caption element inside tables? People developing
> for the web need to learn how to code properly or use tools that
> encourage it, but I just don't think that making alt not required is a
> problem.