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Re: Investigating the proposedaltattributerecommendationsin HTML 5


From: Gez Lemon
Date: Aug 30, 2007 11:50AM

Hi Karl,

On 30/08/2007, Karl Groves < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> I really don't think it matters whether the alt attribute is required or
> not. Truth is, incomplete/ inaccurate/ deceptive alt text is just as bad as
> none at all. It seems as though some people believe that requiring it will
> somehow mean people will use it (and use it effectively). That's not the
> case at all! As Tim Beadle (I think) said, there's a lot of really BAD alt
> text out there and the alt attribute is required now. Clearly, requiring it
> hasn't meant a thing to people who either don't care or don't know about
> supplying good alt text.
> None of this means that I agree with making it optional, but rather that the
> hysteria is unfounded. Requiring it for validity's sake doesn't mean that,
> by proxy, websites suddenly become more accessible.

Hysteria is a bit strong, as most people are just responding to
something that is up for discussion. It would be a very sad state of
affairs if people were afraid to speak up about drafts through fear of
being told they're hysterical, particularly as drafts rely on feedback
from interested stakeholders.

I don't think that those commenting on this issue are naive enough to
believe that just because an attribute is required that it will be
used correctly, but are concerned that by making it not required is a
step backwards. Structurally, alternate text is an important part of
an image. As a markup language should be concerned with structure, it
should be reason enough to insist that the alt attribute is a required
attribute. The suggestion to make it optional has been made purely on
the basis that there are applications that generate poor alternate
text. The real solution is to get those applications to help users
provide good alternate text, not to make the attribute optional, as
that isn't helping anyone.

It's incredible to think that in 2007 people are explaining why
alternate text is important on a web accessibility mailing list.