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View Poll Results: Your view on the ALT attribute!

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  • I don't know what it is

    2 0.94%
  • I know what it is but I don't use it

    29 13.62%
  • I use it but for my own purposes (i.e misuse of ALT for search engine optimisation)

    11 5.16%
  • I am very aware of its use and I try and use it appropriately and as sensibly as possible

    171 80.28%
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  1. #51
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    There are broader benefits to designing a universally accessible sites than just ensuring that it works with speech, for instance by promoting device-independence for Web content. Sites that support Web access for people with visual disabilities also help people accessing the Web from mobile phones, hand-held devices, or automobile-based PCs; when connection speed is too slow to support viewing images or video; or when a person's eyes are "busy" with other tasks. Therefore, Internet Accessibility can benefit society as a whole. The Information Technology revolution has created many changes, and it is imperative that as many people as possible gain from this. Disabled people in the community cannot because much of the current technology available, especially on the Internet, is not designed to be accessible to non-standard users. According to the World Health Organization, more than 750 million people worldwide are classed as having some form of disability, which means that even if only 10% of these users were to use the Internet, you get a significant section of society which is likely to be positively affected if the Internet is made more accessible.

    On a commercial note, disabled users also want and need to use technology to obtain goods online. In addition, many techniques that improve accessibility for disabled users also do so for the older generation, who have more money to spend and therefore, makes the topic of Internet accessibility good business sense. This issue of Internet Accessibility is now becoming a force in the marketplace, with businesses, vendors, and organizations increasingly only doing business only with those companies that offer accessible products because they meet the requirements of customers and employees. Amazon, for example, has made its website accessible to users of screen readers, knowing that a portion of its customers is made up of users who make use of speech. They even tested their website on actual blind users by requesting help in several newsgroups aimed at them.

    Looking to the future, accessible design is also a way of preparing for next-generation user interfaces such as intelligent agents and voice recognition. In a few years people will use voice input and voice output to operate computers over the telephone or while driving. These technologies are in their infancy, but they use the same techniques as accessibility aids. In fact, people with disabilities have been using them for years, pioneering techniques that will someday be commonplace.

  2. #52
    SitePoint Addict gthorley's Avatar
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    What is the best way to view your site as would be seen by someone who doesn't have images and relies on the alt tags.

    How do you temporarily change IE and NS?

  3. #53
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    The best thing to do is to download some speech browsers to have a play with.

    One commercial web browser made specifically for the blind and visually impaired is Productivity Works' pwWebSpeak. Unfortunately, the company has stopped supporting this browser now, which has upset a lot of the blind community as they were dependent on it. You can be rest assured that many people are still using it and will continue to do so.

    Other that you can try are:
    Phillips Free Speech Browser
    Sensus Internet Browser
    BBC BETSIE

    Another alternative approach to access the internet is to combine a screen reader, such as Henter-Joyce's JAWS, with a standard web browser like Netscape Communicator or Microsoft's Internet Explorer. A screen reader is a software program which reads the active window to the user. It can also recognize and read things like menu options, icons, system messages, and scroll bars. Screen readers have a large number of functions which are mapped to arbitrary combinations of the modifier keys with the numeric keypad. This makes the screen reader commands very difficult to learn, but it ensures that they do not overlap with other applications' commands. In addition, the screen reader commands only have to be learned once since they are used no matter what type of application (web browser, word processor, spreadsheet, etc.) is running.

  4. #54
    Gong!
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    Another good software you can use is Lynx - if you prefer to see what browsers for blind speak.

    And Simply Web 2000, which is speech browser could be worth of trying as well.
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  5. #55
    SitePoint Addict Kakarot720's Avatar
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    Since I am a webmaster for the US federal government, I use alt tags for all images. Whether they are spacer images or actual pictures.

    Personally, I think it's extremely inconsiderate of a designer to purposely not include alt tags in their design. Especially if you know that they are a necessity for Accessibility. I can understand not designing for outdated browsers and things like that, but when you deliberately exclude a potential user group b/c you are too lazy to type the extra characters, I really have to question your morals. You never know when a disabled person might take a look at your site. I'm sure if you were a seeing person and lost your vision you would have a whole different outlook on this Alt tag issue. Unfortunately there are tons of web designers out there who can't even spell accessiblity, let alone design accessible sites. The only way to change this trend is through education.

    Oh yea...good luck with your paper Nicky!!

  6. #56
    SitePoint Zealot DarkMonkey's Avatar
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    I would never leave out alt tags thinking "ahaha I am making my website unaccessible for people with disabilities, ahahah, I have no morals".. I simply forget or sometimes dont see the point. However, as I stated in an earlier post, I will try to make an effort to include alt tags more often.

    I do see them as useful, not just for the markets we've been discussing but also normal web surfers with 5.0 browsers or whatever, cause sometimes images can take a long time to load (specially on dial up) and it's really handy to be able to roll over an image link and find out where it's going. I find it paticularly useful on forums usually, when there is the 'post reply' and 'post new topic' usually next to each other and usually tend to load quite late.

    Anyway, I'm done.

  7. #57
    SitePoint Addict Kakarot720's Avatar
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    Dark Monkey,

    Sorry if I came off a little harsh. Definitely didn't mean to. I was referring to designers out there who don't use Alt tags simply b/c they don't want to. I really feel strongly that if you know how critical Alt tags are for accessiblity purposes then you should use them.

    Enough preachin for the day. After all it's Friday!!!!!

  8. #58
    SitePoint Wizard creole's Avatar
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    AMEN!
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  9. #59
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Did you know that 70% of photographs* posted on these forums are of Nicky?

    I would think of a catchy caption to that photograph such as "Nicky smiles wickedly at the camera" or such.

    To take matters more seriously, I am more aware of accessibility in web design now, and sitepoint is partly responsible for this new awareness. I've always really used ALT attributes, but I have never taken it as seriously, as a total ALTernative of the image, as I do now.

    BTW thanks for the links to the speech browsers.

    *Although these statistics may be spurious, wisdom states that all statistics are either controlled lies or uncontrolled lies. I get off on a technicality.
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  10. #60
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    That's not me, that's some famous work of art!

  11. #61
    SitePoint Enthusiast Damage's Avatar
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    It all depends

    It all depends on the site I'm building. It depends on your audience and also the type you're building. So far most of my sites have been for very technical savvy people and through examining webstats I can tell they're mostly on broadband connection. People on broadband aren't likely to disable image loading. If your site requires your audience to see the pictures, then they're not likely to disable images either. The last reason that I might not use ALT tags is when I'm building an extremely high traffic site. I prefer super light HTML code so I don't include any extra code that's not absolutely necessary. When you're building a high traffic site, extra tags like ALT tags (combined with other junk code) can slow page loading when you've got 1000s of people hitting your servers at any one time. It's just my way of hardcore code optimizations.

    I do understand the issues related to people with disabilities, but for the sites I've done so far, using ALT tags wouldn't help make the pages any more understandable than if I didn't include them.

    As a general guideline it's good to use Alt tags, but it's best to know your audience and what type of site you're running. I just thought I present the other side of the coin.
    Last edited by Damage; Apr 28, 2001 at 10:03.

  12. #62
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    I use them specifically for the handicap accessibility reason. I am not as good at my descriptions as I should be, but am getting better!

    Have any of you had the chance to "listen" to your websites with a "talking browser"? That browser will read all of the alt tags to describe the images to the viewer. Once you "hear" how your page sounds, it just may cause you to rethink your use of that little tag! It was a rude awakening to me, that's for sure!!


  13. #63
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    I always used it to help the user. Like the ALT of the smiles when you write your post.


    One doubt:

    I've tried to used it on IE5 - MAC and the ALT doesn't show up.
    Last edited by magi; May 1, 2001 at 04:53.

  14. #64
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    I would like to help everyone who helped me with this poll. I have written the paper and sent it off to the conference, hopefully it will get in.

    Please carry on voting if you hadn't done so alreday as I will be continuing this study as an extension of the paper.

  15. #65
    Irritability Defined
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    Originally posted by Nicky
    I would like to help everyone who helped me with this poll. I have written the paper and sent it off to the conference, hopefully it will get in.
    Glad to hear you submitted the paper Though....... Too much time writing the paper?
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  16. #66
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Woah, nearly 100 results - other pollsters will be jealous!

    Slightly OT (only slightly) - does anyone know (ie Nicky...) if image map alts present probs to speech browsers?

    There was mention of tooltip problems for poly & circle selections in another thread - I know that's not their purpose, but I wondered if similar problems existed in speech browsers.

    H
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  17. #67
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Yes, even using ALT on imagemaps can cause problems. Some speech programs are aware of this and have fixed the problem, but the only solution to make sure it is accessible to everyone is to provide a set of text links, separate from your image map to ensure users can still navigate to those webpages.

  18. #68
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    Nicky, given the area of research you are undertaking; if you have not already; I would suggest you look at the SOCOG (Sydney Organising Committe for the Olympic Games) web site fiasco of last year. You could write a thesis on it alone! Here's the jist for those not familiar with the saga.

    1) A blind man took SOCOG to court to deman that they create a version of their web site accessable to the blind. He argued successfully that SOCOG had broken anti-discrimination laws by not doing so.

    2) SOCOG argued in its defence that such a judgement would be too punitive because SOGOC neither had the time or the estimated $1,000,000 which they claimed it would cost to provide access to the blind. The web site was developed by IBM.

    3) The court ruled against SOCOG and ordered it to fix the web site.

    4) I believe (but could well be mistaken) that SOCOG ignored the court order and chose to cop a fine instead.

    That makes for a facsinating case study in my mind. Would it really have cost SOCOG so much money to modify the web site? What would the additional cost have been if it was designed to be accessable to the blind from the get-go?


    Anyway, just a thought.

  19. #69
    Wanna-be Apple nut silver trophy M. Johansson's Avatar
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    IBM pricelist:

    T-shirt: $20
    Enterprise server: $10000
    ALT-tags: $1,000,000
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  20. #70
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    If anyone is interested:
    Free UK event sponsored by RNIB

    `Olympic failure: the case for making the web accessible'


    When: Friday 1 June, 3pm-5pm

    Where: Portland Room, International Students House, 229 Great Portland Street, London W1, UK. Nearest tube: Gt Portland St, Regent's Park.

    Who should attend: representatives from any company providing a web-based service to the public, representatives from web design agencies, web designers, web project managers, web policy officers, equal opportunity officers and anyone interested in knowing why web sites should be designed to be accessible to people with disabilities.

    Cost: The event is FREE but registration prior to the event is
    essential. If you wish to attend please contact Julie Howell at RNIB
    at julie.howell@rnib.org.uk with your name, company details and email address.


    In August 2000 the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games was found to have engaged in unlawful conduct by providing a web site (http://www.olympics.com) which was inaccessible to blind people. The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission ordered the
    web site be made accessible by the start of the Sydney Olympics. The details of the case and its global implications for government policy and commercial practice on the Internet will be presented by one of the expert witnesses who gave evidence to the commission.

    Key speaker: Tom Worthington

    Tom is a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the Australian National University. He is an independent electronic business consultant and author of the book Net Traveller. Tom is one of the architects of the Commonwealth Government's Internet and web
    strategy. The first Web Master for the Australian Department of Defence, in 1999 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society for his contribution to the development of public Internet policy. Tom is a director and past President of the Australian Computer Society and a voting member of the Association for Computing Machinery.

    Session introduced by: Julie Howell

    Julie joined RNIB in 1994 and became the charity's first Website Editor in 1997. In 1999 she became the officer responsible for a national campaign to encourage the creation of web sites and online services that include people with disabilities. She is an active member of the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative and appears in the WAI film `Web Sites That Work'. She is author of the RNIB report `Get
    the message online: making internet shopping accessible to blind and partially sighted people' and is featured in Louise Proddow's book `Heroes.com: the names and faces behind the dot com era'. Julie helped the UK Government draft their own web design guidelines and was instrumental in persuading Europe's largest e-grocer,Tesco.com, to make its service accessible to disabled customers. She sits on the judging panel of the Government Internet Awards, Local Government
    Internet Awards, Charity Times Awards and New Statesman New Media Awards. In her spare time Julie manages an award-winning online community of people with multiple sclerosis.

    Visit the campaign web site at http://www.rnib.org.uk/digital
    I have been to one of these before at Sheffield and it was pretty good, I think I might try and get to this one too!

  21. #71
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    is it just me or do we only sometimes have partial posts displayed?

    All I can see of Nicky's Post is: "If anyone is interested:"

    was there more to it than that?

  22. #72
    Irritability Defined
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    Originally posted by SurferGirl
    is it just me or do we only sometimes have partial posts displayed?

    All I can see of Nicky's Post is: "If anyone is interested:"

    was there more to it than that?

    Far, far more than that.... If you're still having trouble I'll send a copy of the thread to you via e-mail
    My 2 Cents (or is that 2.2 Cents including GST?)

  23. #73
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    Oh BC's is even better!! BLANK!!!



  24. #74
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Looks like SurferGirl has a problem with the quotes... Heh.

  25. #75
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    AHHHHHH! Quotes!!

    They are not showing up in NN 4.76!! I reloaded this last page up in IE and guess what? I can *see*

    guess the sitepoint folks need to know that it is messing up in NN????

    sg


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