There has been much discussion both within and outside of the W3C HTML5 Working Group about the HTML5 editor’s decision to make the
alt attribute optional, to cover those cases where:
In certain rare cases, the image is simply a critical part of the content, and there might even be no alternative text available.
There has been (and is)Â opposition to this decision, some of those within the working group who question the decision, sought a formal response from the W3C Protocols and Formats Working Group (The PFWG looks at the formal Web technologies from an accessibility perspective). A formal response has now been submitted to the HTML5 working Group.
A summary of the response:
- By the principles, HTML5 wants to support accessibility
- By their charters, WAI groups (here WCAG) are the go-to
experts in matters of accessibility
- WCAG requires @alt (WCAG1) or the function that in HTML4
is provided by @alt (WCAG2) [editorial note — add links]
- By the principles, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
- Conclusion: barring the introduction of new, good
reasons for a change, the failure of the HTML5 draft to make
@alt on <img> an across-the-board requirement (even if sometimes
it has the value of “”) is a bug.
Â note: emphasis added.
There has not as yet been anyÂ feedback from the editor or other proponents of the decision to the formal response, but as it was only sent yesterday (6th of February), it’s early days yet.
- Request for PFWG WAI review of Omitting alt Attribute for Critical Content
- Formal Response to request
- Omitting alt Attribute for Critical Content
- Why the Alt Attribute May Be Omitted
- Investigating the proposed alt attribute recommendations in HTML 5
- Alt text and linked images
- The Price of omitting the alt