E-mail List Archives

Re: Investigating the proposed altattributerecommendations in HTML 5


From: Jared Smith
Date: Aug 30, 2007 3:40PM

On 8/30/07, John Foliot - Stanford Online Accessibility Program
< <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

> The use-case(s) being proposed might seem semi-valid (Flickr et. al.)

The biggest problem with this whole thing is that there are a few
cases where missing alt attribute or an empty alt attribute will
result in more than just a bit of missing information. For instance,
when an image is the only thing inside a link, *it must have
descriptive alt text*. If it does not, the screen reader must present
something to represent the function of that link - typically it will
read the link URL, something which is rarely very useful. On sites
like Flickr, the images are almost always a link - removing the alt
text or making it null will be very detrimental for accessibility.

In short, the whole approach to this seems a bit backward. While
functionally there is little difference between null alt text and no
alt attribute at all, making the attribute optional is inviting
problems. At a minimum, the spec should require functional alt text
when the image is the only thing within an anchor tag as that is the
*ONLY* method of making such links accessible.

Jared Smith