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Re: Investigating the proposedaltattributerecommendationsin HTML 5


From: Karl Groves
Date: Aug 30, 2007 12:00PM

>>incomplete/ inaccurate/ deceptive alt text is just as bad as none at all

> I beg to differ, in many cases even poor quality alt text is preferable
for AT users as it may provide some information about the image.

A vast majority of my time is spent reviewing work performed by others on US
Government websites. In *many* instances, these "others" aren't exactly
what I'd call "experts" when it comes to accessibility. Nevertheless,
they're told that in order to adhere to Section 508 they must supply alt
attributes for all images. (In fact, they sometimes think alt text is all
that's required).

In most instances, the alt text supplied is, as I've said, incomplete,
inaccurate, or deceptive. Sometimes the text supplied isn't terrible and
just needs a little improvement. But in other cases, I've seen alt text so
bad that the user would be better off not having any at all. Unfortunately,
I'm bound by confidentiality from revealing the details of what I've seen,
but suffice it to say that the user would have been better off with null alt
text. Heck, some alt text I've seen has been so bad, having the screen
reader read the image name would have been more helpful.

>>but rather that the hysteria is unfounded.
> what behaviour has been demonstrated by anyone that could be described as

>From my reading of these messages, it would appear that others hold the view
that if the alt attribute is made optional, all of a sudden the entire web
will become inaccessible. I hold a differing view - that the web already
*is* inaccessible, requiring the alt attribute or not will make no
difference. The only way to make the web more accessible is by educating
content producers on how to do so.


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.