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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. #101
    SitePoint Wizard Bill Posters's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Atrus
    Hi! I forgot where I had read this but yes, future html is supposed to be valid according to its dtd which among other things demands the alt attribute.
    Demands?
    As prowsej says, it's highly unlikely (if not completely unikely) that regular browsers will ever 'refuse' to even attempt to show a page because an alt tag is missing.

    So what do you think will *actually* happen if you leave them out?
    How does this reflect on the 'essentialness' of alt tags?

    I guess it would but altered UA behavior wouldn't make your code standards confoming after all. Errors that don't show anymore are still errors, aren't they?
    What I meant that the standard could have been written so that alt tags weren't neccessary- recommended, yes, but 'essential', no.

    The point I'm making is that I feel it would have been better not just to have errors ignored (or handled differently) but to make the omission of alt tags not an error at all.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for including useful and meaningful alt tags for the benefits they bring to various situations (not just blind browsers).
    I just feel that the 'requirement' that even spacer gifs and other non-content images have themdoes little more than make the code more flabby.

    Originally posted by w3exit
    If it's there .. why not use it to reinforce the message in your graphic
    I'm only talking about the use of alt tags with regard to non-content garphic elements, such as spacer images and purely graphic elements that are only there to add style.

    How can you reinforce a graphic bar?

    alt="cool graphic bar with thin grid lines fading from left to right into a pixelated range of blue tones"?

    Not exactly helpful.
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  2. #102
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    Basically the alt is summarised in the old HTML 4.01 "recommendations" as follows:

    http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/struct/objects.html#adef-alt
    Last edited by xhtmlcoder; Jun 27, 2002 at 02:20.

  3. #103
    SitePoint Addict fdeaton's Avatar
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    Smile

    If you ever must do a site whic is section 508 compliant (u.s. gov) then you must use alt tags.

  4. #104
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    What I meant that the standard could have been written so that alt tags weren't neccessary- recommended, yes, but 'essential', no.
    The W3C doesn't make standards. They issue recommendations. Therefore, it is only a recommendation that you include the alt attribute with every image.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for including useful and meaningful alt tags for the benefits they bring to various situations (not just blind browsers).
    I just feel that the 'requirement' that even spacer gifs and other non-content images have themdoes little more than make the code more flabby.
    Browser have advanced enough that, IMO, there is no longer a need to use spacer gifs (CSS works)

  5. #105
    SitePoint Wizard Bill Posters's Avatar
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    Originally posted by prowsej
    The W3C doesn't make standards. They issue recommendations. Therefore, it is only a recommendation that you include the alt attribute with every image.
    Web/dev software developers are beginning to incorporate these recommendations into the software that produces code;
    Employers and clients are beginning to expect familiarity with W3C recommendations;
    Browsers developers are beginning to build their browsers to standardise their output on W3C recommendations then...

    Standards by any other name are still standards.

    Alternatively, don't think standard (quality level), think standard (uniform).
    It's not a question of quality, but one of standardisation to produce uniformly predictable results.

    Browser have advanced enough that, IMO, there is no longer a need to use spacer gifs (CSS works)
    Fair enough, I just used spacer gifs as an example
    (though it's worth noting that some browsers still have problems with collapsing table cells regardless of whether the dimensions are in html or css.)

    Regardless of that, this still doesn't address the (lack of) sense behind the 'recommendation' that alt tags should still be used in 'all' images, even decorative, graphic images.

    But anywho...
    Last edited by Bill Posters; Jun 26, 2002 at 07:03.
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  6. #106
    Weird Little Girl Desdelena's Avatar
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    I always use the alt tag with any type of image. If something happens then youve got a backup and you can tell whats supposed to be there. Even if its something as simple as "image". It also helps a little with the search engines. So why not?

  7. #107
    SitePoint Wizard Bill Posters's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Desdelena
    Even if its something as simple as "image". It also helps a little with the search engines. So why not?
    One of the reasons 'why not' that I am told about is that the various browsers used by sight-impaired visitors read the alt tags out, so in a site with many "image" alt tags the visitors are gonna be overloaded with lots of unneccessary and confusing read outs.

    I'm not 100% sure about this, but I'm sure Nicky could clear any fog as she seems to be the accessibility diva here at SPF.

    It's even recommended against by the W3C (who prefer alt=" " for non-informative images) which is why I find the alt tag's 'requirement' for validation to be a little unconstructive.
    Last edited by Bill Posters; Jun 27, 2002 at 23:14.
    New Plastic Arts: Visual Communication | DesignateOnline

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  8. #108
    SitePoint Zealot Run2Web's Avatar
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    RE: The ALT Attribute

    I use the ALT Tags because I want anyone who visits my site to have access to it and not just those with the "right browser" or have thier images turned on. The Internet is for everyone so I feel that it is important that my sites are viewable/readable to anyone that visits.

    Hope that helps
    RUN2Web

    Has Anyone seen my Furry Little Mind?

  9. #109
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    I always include alt="" tags in my page design. Beyond that, though, I don't include alt tags for actual articles and posts on the site - it's too much work. I've never established a system whereby people who post articles enter alt information, and there's no way that I would do it manually.

    I've also found that it's more difficult than it's worth to have to teach people about the different between alt and title.

  10. #110
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    Originally posted by Nicky
    You are working towards the right direction. However, according to the Royal National Institute for the Blind, when you have an image that does not require an ALT attribute, such as an image which you are using as a spacer, you should either use "." or "x" in the ALT.
    I could not find this recommendation on the web site. It seems odd to me, because I attended a demo of assistive technology used by the blind that used a screen reader called "Jaws". In the demo, if the image had no ALT tag, it read the file name. If there was an ALT tag, it read whatever was in the tag. So if there was a ".", an "x" or even a space within the quotes, the screen reader would read that character. I have also used "Lynx" (a text browser that is sometimes used instead of a graphical browser), and it does the same thing. Since then, I have been using ALT tags on all images, and ALT="" where a description of the image would add no value to the page.

    Based on the posts here, it looks like a lot of people are in between two of the proffered poll choices - they are aware of the tag and use it, but only sometimes.

  11. #111
    Drupaler bronze trophy greg.harvey's Avatar
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    ALT tags are essential.

    I'm joining this discussion a little late, but I'm glad no one has said "ALT tags? Nah - don't use 'em!"

    I write a bit for SitePoint myself, and wrote an article about helping Ford sort our their diversity issues in the UK, and ALT tags are vital from this point of - and of course they're best practice anyway! As Thomas Rutter pointed out further up, you've got to have them for accessibility reasons if nothing else.

    That said, every now and again I end up having to take ALT tags OUT because an insistent client will say "What's that little yellow box that keeps popping up - I don't like it!"



    What can you do?!

    Just one other point - from an accessibility point of view, your ALT tags should be as descriptive as possible. I'm not sure how audio browsers handle the TITLE tag yet - I'll have a play - but to have ALT="Search." and TITLE="Search button. Click this link to search the page." is probably a bad idea at the moment. The ALT tag should be as descriptive as the TITLE tag. Also, be aware that if you don't use full stops in your ALT tags, like: ALT="Click here to search." then an audio browser will make a right mess of reading it because many of them won't spot the end of the tag as the end of a sentence. Even one word ALT tags should have a stop after them. Anyway - I'm boring MYSELF now!

    G

  12. #112
    SitePoint Wizard Bill Posters's Avatar
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    Re: ALT tags are essential.

    Originally posted by greg.harvey
    ...That said, every now and again I end up having to take ALT tags OUT because an insistent client will say "What's that little yellow box that keeps popping up - I don't like it!"



    What can you do?!
    In my tests using an empty title attribute (title="") usually kills the box as the title attribute will over-ride the alt tag when it comes to the boxes.

    Seeing as alt tags are more 'essential' to img accessibility than the title attribute, there is perhaps the opportunity to maintain a reasonable level of accessibility while still avoiding the popup boxes.
    It's a bit of a trade-off.

    Of course, if you're already using the img title attributes for real content then you can't use them for this method.
    But, if you are using them for real content already, then I guess that it's unlikely that particular client will have a problem with either alt tags or the popups (as the title attribute is actually the intended way to trigger them and is a major part of their raison d'être.)

    Anywho, just a thought

    Also, be aware that if you don't use full stops in your ALT tags, like: ALT="Click here to search." then an audio browser will make a right mess of reading it because many of them won't spot the end of the tag as the end of a sentence. Even one word ALT tags should have a stop after them.
    A useful point, so thx for that 'heads up'.
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  13. #113
    Drupaler bronze trophy greg.harvey's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Re: ALT tags are essential.

    Originally posted by Bill Posters

    In my tests using an empty title attribute (title="") usually kills the box as the title attribute will over-ride the alt tag when it comes to the boxes.
    Ahhh! Very useful. I'd never tried it - thanks!

    G

  14. #114
    SitePoint Evangelist azizur_rahman's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Nicky
    You are working towards the right direction. However, according to the Royal National Institute for the Blind, when you have an image that does not require an ALT attribute, such as an image which you are using as a spacer, you should either use "." or "x" in the ALT.
    wouldn't the screen reader will read out that x or the period? How will that help the blind people who uses screen reader? everytime it encounters an ALT tag it will say x or period.

    What about the Section 508 which says to use alt="" (blank)?
    Azizur Rahman
    Web Application Developer

  15. #115
    Drupaler bronze trophy greg.harvey's Avatar
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    Blank ALTs are read out as "graphic" by some screen readers, but "." is not read out at all. The screen reader ignores it. It's taking advantage of an oversight by the designers of screen reading s/w that's worked out rather well.


  16. #116
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Anyone here have an aural stylesheet?

    Anyone recommend any software for testing it?
    [mmj] My magic jigsaw
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  17. #117
    Drupaler bronze trophy greg.harvey's Avatar
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    Simply is a reasonably rubbish, but free, screen reading browser. http://www.econointl.com/sw/

    It does give you a good indication of what your website will sound like, but I wouldn't like to use it if I were blind!

    IBM's is the best, but $200 or something.

    G


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