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RE: evaluating Web accessibility software


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Jul 25, 2003 1:46PM

On Fri, 25 Jul 2003, Jim Thatcher wrote:

> I was surprised to read that you view Alt on an AREA as an "inaccessible
> technique"

I think the point is that _image maps_ have serious accessibility problems
even if ALT attributes are used.

> - and this apparently because it is not rendered with images off
> in Opera.

Well, that's a rather minor point, though disappointing.

> It is rendered with the mouse over in IE and Netscape 4

But that's _not_ what ALT attributes mean! They specify textual
alternatives to be presented when the image is not displayed.
Analogue: Would it be acceptable to omit a heading from display, making it
visible on mouseover only?

Besides, when an image map is presented so that the actual image is not
displayed, those browsers show no indication of the presence of any
alternatives. The user cannot even know how many areas there are.

> - - it is rendered with HPR and the major screen readers.

And Lynx, for example. Thus, ALT attributes are useful - actually,
mandatory, though for some odd reason the HTML DTDs don't enforce this.
But they are not sufficient.

Accessibility is more than accessibility to people who use certain
software for certain reasons related to their special problems.
To take a trivial, yet real, example: A person who uses a slow line for
economic or technical reason often wants to turn images off on a common
browser like IE. Or someone might want to turn images off for other
reasons. Or you might find yourself working with a copy of a page saved
locally but without images. And so on. When an image map is used just for
setting up a selection - effectively, a graphic counterpart of a link list
- which is the most common case, accessibility is reduced even if ALT
attributes are used.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

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