ALT 2, Brute'?

Subject: ALT 2, Brute'?
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 10:20:55 -0700 (PDT)

I guess I didn't make the point of my question clear. I am interested in the
question of how much is enough. Generally, when ALT is used, there is a one or
two word identifier associated with the graphic. If you let something like
FrontPage do the ALT (when it will even permit an ALT) FP will just put the
file name and size in the ALT text, which I doubt is of much use to someone who
is either visually impaired or wants to know what a picture is about before
they decide whether or not to download it.

Lately, I have been taking the time to write sentences in the ALT text
describing what the graphic is about or what information it provides. I do this
thinking of those who are visually impaired and using a "speaking" browser. I
may not be able to replace the experience of seeing the graphic, but if it is a
flow diagram or other important graphic, I feel this class of user wants to
know something about what they may be missing.

However, my current work is in a place that doesn't seem to have hired a lot of
visually impaired people. Since I'm working in a captive, Intranet, environment
I'm not getting a lot of feedback about useability on this score. And for those
who expressed an interest, it was I who asked the question of our Legal
department about what accessibility standards we should be following. (The
answer, predictably, was "We'll get back to you on that." No, they haven't said
a word in over a year.)

So, back to my original question: How much ALT text is enough? Do you make
extensive use of ALT text? Do you get any user feedback about it?

Postscript: I took the trouble to read the article Eric Ray suggested about the
whole issue of accessibility. I recommend it to those few for whom this is a
current concern, and I would encourage those who haven't thought about it, to
read the article and start thinking about it.


Tom Murrell
Senior Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com

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