WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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Re: Subject:need some help re problem sites (Dave Merril)


From: Bronwyn Lapham
Date: Apr 30, 2013 11:40PM

Hi Dave

To put this in context, Jodie and I both work in the Australian Vocational
Education and Training sector. The recommendations made in that document
are aimed at people in that sector, and include our national technical
"e"-standards. Because a significant number of users are still using
old-ish technology (we dropped IE6 last year), the e-standards attempt to
provide as interoperable an environment as possible. I should also mention
the document is aimed primarily at providing guidance and principles of
accessibility to teachers - it looks a bit "WCAGgy" but we were trying to
present the info in a somewhat less challenging and more friendly way.
Based on your previous posts I think you have a technical background and
would be perhaps better served by the WebAIM site, or the W3C techniques,
or one of the other sites that have more technical depth rather than ours.

We have a watching brief on HTML5. Until our users migrate to more current
browsers (often controlled by IT departments in large tertiary education
institutions) we'll stick with XHTML 1.0 as our safest option.

I'm certainly no expert on ARIA - I understand it is still in development,
and we would not recommend a draft standard (again - in this particular

And it's my understanding that only if an image conveys information (that
does include creating a mood or evoking a feeling) should its alt attribute
have a value. I heard of an instance of a web page read by a screen reader
that included "One pixel transparent gif used as a spacer" multiple times.
Imagine! I think that different screen readers will behave differently if
there is no alt attribute, including going so far as to read out the path
to the image and its name.

There are far more expert people on this list than I, and I *really* hope
they will weigh in.



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dave Merrill < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2013 07:13:05 -0400
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] need some help re problem sites (Hoger, Jodie)
Hi Bronwyn, your guide looks very useful. I have a couple of questions, for
you and anyone else who'd like to chime in, if you don't mind. Please
excuse any obvious questions, I'm new to accessibility.

- You recommend the XHTML 1.0 Transitional doctype. Is there a problem
using HTML5?

- The navigation section doesn't mention the use of heading tags (h1-h6),
or ARIA roles. I thought both were commonly used by screen reader users to
discover content and navigate within the page. Am I wrong that they're

- I wasn't aware of the idea that purely decorative images should have
empty alt text. I thought all images should have alt text describing the
image or its functionality within the page. Do screen
readers completely skip images with no alt text, or are they announced as

Just to be clear, none of this is meant as criticism, just me trying
to understand what's important, and how to best get there.

Dave Merrill