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RE: Blank alt


From: Jukka Korpela
Date: Oct 24, 2002 11:30PM

Jim Thatcher wrote:

> There is also logic involved. Alt="" (no space) is empty alt
> text, - -
> Alt=" " (one space) is ... well one space.

Exactly. In other words, alt="" says that the textual equivalent to the
image is an empty string, i.e. nothing should appear in place of the image,
whereas alt=" " says that a string consisting of one space is the textual

> It is neither null nor empty. It should never be used.

Never say "never".

Suppose you're given the task of fixing a page that uses a spacer image to
create a gap of specific width between two words and has no alt attribute
for the image. Suppose you're not allowed to do anything but add an alt
attribute; maybe it's a piece of poetry that must not be otherwise touched
by mortals. Wouldn't you use alt=" " to make the words have _some_ spacing
between them?

(Well, maybe e.g. alt="   " would work better.)

> If any tool complains about alt="" it is the tools problem!

Right. Silencing a "validator" with something unnatural (like alt="empty")
would surely create problems. Browsers are a more serious issue, but I would
not recommend using e.g. alt=" " just to cope with a browser that does not
treat alt="" correctly, since then there would be problems with other
browsers than deal with it properly.

Jukka Korpela, senior adviser
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
Diffuse Business Guide to Web Accessibility and Design for All:

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