[whatwg] Alt text authoring Re: Conformance for Mail clients

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at googlemail.com
Sun Apr 22 15:54:55 PDT 2007

Maciej Stachowiak wrote:

> How about:
> <img src="gallery2.jpg" alt="">  -- image could be omitted without 
> changing the meaning of the document (screen readers or text-only 
> browsers could just skip it)
> <img src="gallery2.jpg" noalt> -- image cannot be omitted without 
> changing the meaning, but no text equivalent is available (screen 
> readers or text-only browsers / mail clients should give some indication 
> that an image is there)
> I'm not sure I like that better than just omitting alt entirely, but I 
> thought I'd throw it out there.

When screen readers find img without alt, there typically attempt to 
fake alternative text using the src attribute. This can be done crudely 
(just reading the whole path) or selectively (just reading the filename, 
e.g. gallery2.jpg). Since authors will continue to fail to provide 
alternative text, screen readers are likely to continue employing such 
heuristics, defeating any attempt to attach a special new meaning to 
missing alt attributes. If images without alt are to be allowed, then 
noalt would be a reasonable hint.

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

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