[html4all] several messages about alt
Leif Halvard Silli
lhs at malform.no
Sun Apr 13 08:33:05 PDT 2008
Henri Sivonen 08-04-13 14.05:
> On Apr 13, 2008, at 14:15, Ben Boyle wrote:
> > Where does "conformance" fit in on the scale?
> It depends on what kind of conformance is meant. First, there's the
> question of conformance to what? To HTML5? To WCAG? Second, there's
> the issue that overall conformance criteria may have parts that are
> not machine checkable.
And as you say below, HTML 5 has such criterias.
> In theory, HTML5 conformance and HTML5 validity are the same thing. In
> practice, though, people tend to think that validity is what a
> validator checks, which is machine-checkable conformance criteria.
Your product is called a conformance checker. So, I take it that you are
in doubt about whether it should actually be a conformance checker, or
if it should be a validity checker. And also it seems that even if it
will be a validity checker, you still consider calling it a conformance
checker. (Conformance to HTML 5, that is.)
> Examples of non-machine-checkable conformance criteria:
> * "The img must not be used as a layout tool." (HTML 5)
> * "Authors must only use elements, attributes, and attribute values
> for their appropriate semantic purposes." (HTML 5)
> * "Content MUST NOT use a code point for any purpose other than that
> defined by its coded character set." (Charmod)
> * "Images of text are only used for pure decoration or where a
> particular presentation of text is essential to the information being
> conveyed." (WCAG 2.0
If we formalise that the first step of validation/conformance checking,
namely the checking of whether images have the correct alt text and are
used in the right way, if tables have summary, and so on and so forth,
as a step that must be done by the author/webmaster, then your product
could be allowed to check only the more formal points - while at the
same time also give a stamp that the document conforms, taking into
account that the author has done his job in advance.
Of course, if there are photo web sites taking constant streams of
photos from mobile phones etc, then it should be possible to make that
CMS handle those photos in a way that the webmaster approves of, so that
he can offer the site for validation/conformance checking. It will be up
to the site policy to decide whether one are satisfied with the way it
is handeled or not.
Henri Sivonen 08-04-13 10.55:
> The syntax rules need to be lax enough for all kinds of sites to be
> able to comply. If all sites can't be accessible, too, then
> accessibility and syntactic correctness are different evaluation axes.
Those are different evaluation axes. But experience has shown us that
the only validation that authors care about is the general CSS and HTML
stamps. Therefore, we must (continue to) incorporate social
consciousness into the general stamping tools.
And also - and this goes against what you said in your rathole letter:
people tend to think that the HTML stamp actually also incorporate some
general accesibility checking, as it does check if there is an alt and a
summary etc. The W3 HTML checker has always done a small bit of
accessiblity checking , and that is part of why people want to check
their pages in that validator. To offer a checker as a same kind of
prestiged checker as the current W3 tool, without incorporating some
basic accessibility checking, would be a bit like stealing goodwill from
a wholly different kind of tool.
It was Anne, who in his blog once said those very wise words (quoted
from my mind) that "people are making XHTML pages thinking they are
making more accessible and semantic pages - though in reality both
<FONT> etc are permitted in current XHTML". He is right, but this also
shows that people expect to be measured against a accessibility and
semantisism standard when they run their pages through the validator mill.
The way I propose it, with some kind of "unready" stamp etc, people will
be allowed to cheat - just remove the 'unready' and do the minimum thing
with the alt attribtues - but they will also then know that they are
cheating. At the same time, what is cheating? The author evalution
Btw, it strikes me that validation tools have two kinds of purposes: One
is acting as a formal stamp. The other is that they are developement
tools. For instance, my main browser, iCab, incorporates an error
checker, which informs me about lacking alt attributes and so on. And my
text editor stops coloring the syntax if there is a syntax error.
(Unfortunatly - or perhaps not - forgetting an alt attribute does not
destroy the syntax colors.)
Henri Sivonen 08-04-13 10.55:
> On Apr 13, 2008, at 03:35, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
> > In this regard, I proposed  - as an replacement for the current
> > "WYSIWYG made" stamp - a new "unready" stamp, which all authors -
> > couples, and blind - and all editing tools - could use, when they
> > need to offer HTML which they consider technically unready.
> Alternatively, we could call "unready" valid HTML5 and "better than
> unready" valid HTML5 with WCAG compliance. We don't have to conflate
> accessibility evaluation with the syntactic correctness.
For one thing, I meant real unreadyness. And, in fact, not only the
accessibility side. And it would be up to the validator to tell if the
syntax etc actually is ready. (Unless you think that any document
starting with <!DOCTYPE HTML> is valid, in which case we don't need any
For the second, the "unready" stamp does not conflate those two things.
It helps keeping them apart. And allows an HTML 5 conformance checker to
give a definitive 'Yes', when the author has done his part. And it
raises the consciousness about the fact that writing HTML documents is a
Only the author can know if the document is ready - only he is in charge
of how the text needs to be "alt-ed".
WCAG is a higher degree of accessibility checking. Given all the things
you say that a normal page maker never will do, how come you think
he/she will do WCAG cheking? Will you offer a direct link in your tool
for running the page in a WCAG checker, for instance? (That could be
[*] PS: I once asked a vendor representative how, with HTML 5, we will
be able to serve pages that triggers quirks mode. And the answer I got
was "by omitting the <!DOCYTYPE> alltogether". I understand that there
is hope that quirksmode could be built into CSS, instead. And that would
be nice. But that answer showed me that there is no universal demand
amongst "vendors" that that any thing presented as HTML needs to be valid.
leif halvard silli
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