[html4all] Opera and accessibility
applegoddess at gmail.com
Mon Sep 10 14:57:33 PDT 2007
Crawling out of the shadows to offer my two cents :)
Opera's site seems to be somewhat inconsistent with that, because they
provide alt text for all the other text-as-images (e.g. opera mini,
wii). Why they decided to do what you point out, I don't know. But
speaking from personal experience, having a consistent look,
particularly one that matches a preexisting identity (like for a
company), is important to many.
So basically, I'm just saying that maybe someone at opera decided that
there was no other feasible way to include that text but still have it
match their look. I'm sure there were other ways of going about this
- e.g. having the background image as is, but have that text as a
separate banner with alt text, but there's really no nice way to
always get that consistency and stay accessible. Take for example
Apple's homepage - although it's an image with alt text, imagine that
"Meet the best iPods ever." was not an image, but rather text in some
more common font such as Verdana or Arial instead of Myriad Pro. It
would look extremely out of place, given that Apple uses Myriad Pro
everywhere for all text from banners on their site to their
advertisements, store banners, business cards, ..and so on.
Unfortunately there isn't much to do in terms of that area. Many of
the image replacement techniques out there are inaccessible, messy,
infeasible and..well, inaccessible. What to do then?
You could go the route that Opera and Apple have - use images as text
replacements and add alt text. But can you feasibly do that for
everything, e.g. headlines on a news site? And even if you could,
what happens if the user wanted to make the text bigger..your
text-as-images stay the same size. Or, you could dynamically generate
the images..but some hosts won't support installation of such
software, nor is that feasible (imagine the waste of resources) on a
heavily-trafficed site. There's other ways like sIFR, but that only
otherwise some screenreaders really muck it up and it's not as nice as
the plaintext alternative, although you'd be getting the look you
wanted (so much for that declaration of sIFR accessibility on its
website...). Not all sites are the same, nor are the audiences, and
so something that might not work for one may work for another, but
this is something important to everyone (designers, accessibility
advocates, end users, ..everybody) that shouldn't be dealt with
through hacks of sorts, alas this is the best we have now.
Sorry to write such a long email...but I felt that what you brought up
was an example of a greater problem facing designers/developers out
there, rather than what might just be a simple mistake on Opera's
On 9/10/07, Philip Taylor (Webmaster) <P.Taylor at rhul.ac.uk> wrote:
> Whilst looking up "Opera" on the web (to define it
> for the purposes of a WCMS procurement exercise),
> I happened on http://www.opera.com/; intrigued
> to see what the ALT text was for the masthead graphic
> I discovered that (a) it is a background image (no problem
> with that), but more significantly, that its message
> Opera for your computer
> is hidden from non-graphical user agents such as Lynx.
> Why, I wonder, do Opera choose to present text-as-image,
> and then not give unsighted visitors the same information ?
> ** Phil.
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