RE: Click here?

Subject: RE: Click here?
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2001 07:52:28 -0800 (PST)

--- David Berg <dberg -at- dmpnet -dot- com> wrote:
> 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.

David, creating better user agents for the visually impaired would
probably be an excellent idea. Certainly it is an under explored area.
My guess would be that nobody has found an ROI model that would make it
worthwhile economically.

In the mean time, I wonder how adding alt text or title text to a link
can create a problem for the vast majority of the audience, as your
last sentence suggests. I'm not visually impaired (except that I do
wear glasses and do get eye fatigue looking at poorly designed sites.
Those site, in my not so humble opinion, rely on flash to cover up a
lack of substance. Just because you CAN do something flashy with a web
page does not mean it's easier on the user.

Pretty or flashy graphics, with no alt text, are all the rage, but they
don't make those sites easier to use. Adding alt text or better yet
replacing worthless graphic buttons with useful text links actually
enhances the site for everyone.

I think you argument has more to do with how difficult you may perceive
it to be to do the work to add alt text. Yes, developers' tools may not
automatically insert text, or force the developer to do so, and that's
a bad thing. But don't blame the tools for work you can do whether or
not the tool makes it easy.

Our job is to communicate, not make things easy for ourselves.

Tom Murrell
Lead Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com
Personal Web Page -

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