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Re: Alt text (was VIKI - text transcodeing)


From: Patrick H. Lauke
Date: Jan 22, 2007 11:20AM

John Foliot - Stanford Online Accessibility Program wrote:

> Then why bother with the image at all?

Because the web is still, for the majority of users, a visual medium.
Do you offer alternatives for the choice of colour of your background or
links? No? Then why bother with colour at all? Same reason.

> To *not* offer the equivalent, is to
> me, doing them an injustice:

Same for colour, choice of typeface, layout, etc? They all serve to set
the mood...

> surely Patrick you are not suggesting that 60%
> of all images on the web today (used to establish mood) should simply have
> alt=""?

No, I'd suggest sticking them in via CSS ;-)

As ever in the discussion on alt, this is very much dependent on
context. And - as I already remember arguing with Joe Clark ages ago
when he was putting together his canonical reference for when a PDF is
appropriate - I'm after all those images that are not there to
illustrate specific things that could be classed as content themselves,
but those wonderfully generic "man with laptop", "businessmen shaking
hands" cr*p that abounds in corporate design.

> Why not: <img src="path" alt="[Photo - Students enjoying the relaxed
> teaching style of Professor Jones]" />

If the main copy already has text along the lines of "Professor Jones'
teaching style is relaxed, and every year students comment on how
enjoyable his lectures are", then it's pure duplication. All this would
say to me is: look, we've got photographic evidence!

As mentioned above, this also depends on the context of the page/image.
I'm crusading against the purely "visual fluff" imagery. If your image
above was in a generic page about teaching at an institution (rather
than a page specifically for Prof Jones), then it probably falls more
under content.

> Your main point of ensuring that the supporting text also supports the tone,
> mood or feel is 100%, but if the copy-writer wants an image there to support
> that mood, then the alternative text should do so as well.

It's not the copywriter that wants it there, it's the designer (who
will, more often than not, stick some bland image from an imagebank in

Patrick H. Lauke