[whatwg] Alt text authoring Re: Conformance for Mail clients (and maybe other WYSIWYG editors)

Charles McCathieNevile chaals at opera.com
Wed Apr 18 11:56:18 PDT 2007

On Mon, 16 Apr 2007 10:32:10 -0400, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs at apple.com> wrote:

> On Apr 15, 2007, at 11:48 PM, Karl Dubost wrote:
>> in a drag and drop scenario in your mail.app or other HTML
>> authoring tool, you could imagine:
>> [...]
>> When the image is put in the window, a text is requested by the UI
>> (a bit ala ajaxy flickr.)
>> Then the markup could be generated.
> I don't think this is workable for HTML-generating mail clients or
> other tools for non-experts. You paste in an image and an area pops
> up to edit text that won't actually be visible in the mail message.

> This is likely to cause confusion and annoyance to users, and pretty
> unlikely to lead to good quality alt text. People would either just
> press enter, or type a description or caption (and then be annoyed
> when it disappeared) instead of substitute text. Consider in
> particular the case where you paste in a chunk of rich text content
> containing multiple images.

There are a lot of ways of doing this in a UI. There are a lot of cases (Maciej you seem to have most of them mentioned already) where the appropriate alt is null.

> I think it remains the case that for end-user generated content,
> there will often be semantically meaningful images that are
> meaningful in themselves and cannot be considered alternate
> representations of some piece of text.

Years of work on accessibility, and a particular focus on authoring tools, suggests that while this is certainly true, There are lots of good ways to enable authors to include an alternate. One of the big frustrations I find with the web today is using assorted tools like wikis and blogsto edit content, and not being able to put useful content for alt where appropriate, and mark it explicitly blank for other cases.

Actually, given the relative distribution of disabilities and people, being able to put an image into content in the first place is probably more important than being able to put an alt to it - although the search engine case and various other things irrelevant to accessibility per se add to the value of alt.

But it should still be possible. This is not really rocket science, but stuff that people have been working on for decades. When I had my first job working in IT accessibility in 1983 it was already a fairly straightforward problem. That it still gets discussed today is not a very flattering reflection on us as a development community.



  Charles McCathieNevile, Opera Software: Standards Group
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