WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

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client-side image maps


From: Leo Smith
Date: Sep 13, 2001 7:58AM

Hi All,
Was wondering if anyone would like to comment on the
accessibility of client-side imagemaps. Section 508 specifies that
a client-side map should be used rather than a server-side one, and
that alt text should be provided for the image and for the hotspots.
W3C priority 3 checkpoint says "until user agents render text
equivalents for client-side image map links, provide redundant text
links for each active region of a client-side imagemap."
I am assuming this is referring to the fact that when images are
turned off in a browser (user agent), the alt text for the hotspots is
not displayed in the browser, but only the alt text for the imagemap
image. This is something that I have only just noticed.
Do most screen readers correctly read the alt text for the image
map hotspots on a client-side image map?
Also, rather than providing redundant text links for such an image
map (this could be a lengthy list depending on the size and extent
of the image map), what do folks think about using transparent gifs
instead, one for each link of the image map with appropriate alt
text? This would be read by a screen reader and display in
browsers with images off, but would not affect the visual layout of
the page with images on.
Thoughts? Comments?

Leo Smith
Web Designer/Developer
USM Office of Publications and Marketing
University of Southern Maine