RE: Click here?

Subject: RE: Click here?
From: "David Berg" <dberg -at- dmpnet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2001 09:18:52 -0600

> I just wrote off-list to someone else about is true
> that ALT text
> can be very descriptive and not be seen on the screen, but the problem is
> that when the screen reader generates the links list, it does not include
> the alt text for that graphic or link. It merely generates a list based on
> the link text itself, which is why the text itself must be unique and
> descriptive.
> Visually impaired users rely heavily on the links list that the screen
> reader software generates...imagine a site filled with links, like
> It is much easier and faster for that user to use the
> links list
> to navigate that page.

This is interesting, and I admit I wasn't aware of this problem. I see a
paradox here; non-disabled users use a variety of textual and other visual
cues as they read a web page, and web pages can be designed for quick visual
scanning and intuitive navigation by most of their audience. Very often,
links on the 'net are graphic image maps, buttons, navigation bars, etc,
without any text that is readable by the software you mention.

Then you have the problem with the minority of the users that rely on
software to read the text on the page. It seems to me that the problem you
mention above is a failing in the reader software, and I wonder if all
reader software is subject to this problem, or if some setting could be
configured in the software to help this situation. It wouldn't be too hard
to design reader software that could analyze HTML and determine if a graphic
was a hyperlink, then include the alt text for those links in the links
list. Another nice feature would be reader software that could handle text
that appears in popup windows when you mouseover an element on the screen.

I'm all in favor of accommodating as many users as possible, but you have to
draw a line at some point to avoid alienating the vast majority of your
audience with awkward design.


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