Alt Attribute

Ok, I want to rant awhile. While working on my Web pages, if you're familar with html code, there are these quirky things you have to do to be W3C complaint. One of them is the small attribute in the "img" format called the "alt" tag, using the common term for it. It's purpose is to assign a name to the image for three reasons. The first is for non-image enbable browsers, such as lynx. The second is for browsers when the image is toggled off. And the last is for the speech-recognition software for the visually impaired.

Now, the alt tag is not used for anything else, not read for other purposes. It's simply a place holder for the image when the browser reads the Web page and for translation into speech. Don't get me wrong, there is something to this, but let's phrase it a different way. If the browser can't read the image as an image, or the browser has images toggled off, then why explain the image? They can't or don't want to see it, so why explain it?

And that gets to the Section 508C of the American with Disabilities Act where Web pages are required to use the alt tag to say that it's an image and what it's an image of. If the user can't see the photo, why explain it? With few exceptions on my Web pages, all of the alt tags are labelled "Photo". I realize this is inadequate for many people who may want to know what it's a photo of, but if they can't or don't want to see it, why describe it?

I realize this may be a sort of cruel joke, but sometimes I want to add a Hemingway-like description to the alt tag, one of those endless paragraphs that go on forever, describing every last detail of the image, the feelings of the photograper, the weather during the duration of the photograph, and finally the complete description of the process to get the photograph from the camera in the field to the Web page. Just a thought and rant against the obvious.

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WSR V2.8, January 2013