HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives

HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives is a work in progress currently edited by me, I encourage anyone with an interest to contribute to its development.

The HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives document is intended as a replacement for the text alternative examples and authoring conformance requirements in section Requirements for providing text to act as an alternative for images, of the current editors draft of the W3C HTML5 specification.

Aims of HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives:

  • Provide clear and practical advice on how to provide appropriate text alternatives for images using currently supported techniques.
  • How to make use of the new features available in HTML5 and WAI-ARIA for providing text alternatives.
  • Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each technique in reference to browser and assistive technology support.
  • Provide normative rules for each technique in regards to whether its correct use results in a conforming HTML5 document.
  • Harmonization of HTML5 document conformance with WCAG 2.0 in regards to image text alternatives.

How to get involved

If you want to comment or contribute on the HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives draft you can file a bug or email: or email a comment to

To get involved further you can join the W3C HTML Working Group.

Categories: Development

About Steve Faulkner

Steve is the Chief Accessibility Officer at TPGi. He joined TPGi in 2006 and was previously a Senior Web Accessibility Consultant at vision australia. Steve is a member of several groups, including the W3C Web Platforms Working Group and the W3C ARIA Working Group. He is an editor of several specifications at the W3C including ARIA in HTML and HTML Accessibility API Mappings 1.0. He also develops and maintains HTML5accessibility and the JAWS bug tracker/standards support.


Ms2ger says:

I still wonder why anybody would read that document.

hi Ms2eger, I am happy to report that the feedback from the various mailing lists on the document so far has been overwhelmingly positive and constructive. It appears that many people do not share your lack of interest.

Julie says:

Excellent work, Steve! After a quick read though, I believe this document could be an excellent resource for our designers and developers.
Ms2eger, you never know. If you read the document, you might just learn something.

Henny Swan says:

Good work Steve, really comprehensive.

Ms2ger I think the point is that people who are intrested and have the time will read the document. People who are intrested and don’t have the time will use it as a reference and dip into it when and where they need to. Others will read the document and disseminate information out to more people via blogs, articles, training sessions, forums, discussion, company guidelines and so on.

This is what the web is all about after all.