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Re: Question about image in the alt attribute


From: Chagnon | PubCom
Date: Jul 31, 2014 7:36PM

Olaf wrote:
"This is one of the areas where WCAG needs fixing - accessibility is not
about disabilities of user agents. "

Correct. It's about people and people will use whatever technology they can
to meet their needs.

One of the biggest problems with WCAG is how it's written and organized on
the website. It needs a good team of professional technical writers and
editors to rewrite the gobbily-gook that's there now, and a team of
professional designers create a comprehendible website.

Example: "Decoration, Formatting, Invisible: If non-text content is pure
decoration, is used only for visual formatting, or is not presented to
users, then it is implemented in a way that it can be ignored by assistive
technology." From WCAG guidelines at

Just in yesterday's class, my clients (federal designers, web developers,
and editors) reviewed this guideline and came away more confused than when
they started. Here are some of their comments.

"Pure decoration." Too ambiguous a term. Undefined. Nearly everything that
isn't text could end up classified as "pure decoration."

"Used only for visual formatting." No one could figure out what the WCAG
authors meant by this. It's hard to imagine how graphics could be used for
visual formatting. It's equally hard to know what is meant by visual
formatting because even text is visually formatted. That's how publications
& websites are put together! The only ideas the class could come up with
are rules (or outlines, borders) and background tints that are often placed
around sidebars and other types of "boxed" information to separate them
visually from the rest of the page.

"Or is not presented to users." This phrase was the most confusing. Which
users are they talking about? Sighted, low-vision, or blind users? And how
could a graphic (or non-text element) that's on a webpage or in a document
not be presented? If it's in the document, how could it not be there? (That
comment was by an editor.) What do they mean by this term?

If we want to educate people about accessibility and mandate that it be
done, then we have to give people reasonable tools, directions, standards,
guidelines, etc. so that it the tasks and objectives are understandable and
doable. What we have now on the W3C website is an incomprehensible,
disorganized, confusing mess.

There is one good, readable section on the site: the POUR section
http://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/glance/. Kudos to the authors for adding this
big-picture concept to WCAG. I use it all the time in my classes when
teaching accessible documents to federal employees. It gets the message
across succinctly. We need more of this.

-Bevi Chagnon
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