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Re: ALT Text - CMS Problem


From: David Ashleydale
Date: Apr 15, 2011 2:18PM

I agree that alt="b47_257.jpg" is worse than alt="", but that's not the
question. The question is which of these situations is worse:

1. An image of a red ball on a page is given alt="b47_257.jpg"
2. An image that shows where to find the routing number on a check is
given alt=""

A little more context might be needed. There are hundreds of (non-technical)
employees using our CMS and there are often new hires. No matter what kind
of accessibility training we give, there will always be page authors that
ignore it or just don't get it. Even if we put notes in the CMS to advise
users how to determine the difference between decorative and meaningful
images, the reality is that there will be a lot of people that don't read
it. I still do make training available, but I have to acknowledge that it
still won't get through to everyone.

So I have to accept these facts as true:

1. ALT text is required on all images currently. Page authors sometimes
write terrible ALT text on all images, whether they are decorative or not.
But most of the time they write the correct ALT text (usually the text that
is inside the image).
2. If we change the CMS to make ALT text optional, there will be some
important, meaningful images that will not be given ALT text. I can try to
regularly educate the users, but if ALT text is optional, there will always
be a non-zero number of meaningful images on our site with alt="".

My gut tells me that situation 1 is better than 2, but I did want to run it
by the community here. Given these facts, if the majority of the community
thinks that making ALT text optional on images is worth the risk of some
users not being able to get all of the information that is in images on our
site, I will run it by the CMS management office.

If we do decide to stick with the current situation, I'd like to at least
give the users some tips on writing ALT text for decorative images (not that
they will all read it, though). I don't think our CMS accepts a space as the
ALT text. And just using a hyphen seems a little weird. Maybe asking them to
just use one word? Like "beach" for a decorative photo of a couple on a

Thanks so much for all of your feedback so far.

David Ashleydale

On Fri, Apr 15, 2011 at 10:14 AM, Jared Smith < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

> On Fri, Apr 15, 2011 at 9:20 AM, David Ashleydale wrote:
> > than having to hear "red ball" for an image of a circle.
> I'd hardly call that "seriously wrong ALT text." What if it were
> alt="image" instead? Or alt="b47_257.jpg"?
> These certainly would be worse than no alternative text at all. And
> they are precisely the types of alt text that often occur when users
> are forced to provide alternative text for all images without an
> understanding of what good alternative text is.
> Jared