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Bug 10019 - Native user agent support for exposing longdesc to all users
Summary: Native user agent support for exposing longdesc to all users
Alias: None
Product: HTML WG
Classification: Unclassified
Component: pre-LC1 HTML5 spec (editor: Ian Hickson) (show other bugs)
Version: unspecified
Hardware: PC All
: P2 normal
Target Milestone: ---
Assignee: Ian 'Hixie' Hickson
QA Contact: HTML WG Bugzilla archive list
Depends on:
Blocks: 24592
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Reported: 2010-06-26 09:35 UTC by Laura Carlson
Modified: 2014-02-10 09:53 UTC (History)
8 users (show)

See Also:


Description Laura Carlson 2010-06-26 09:35:11 UTC
Please state that user agents can/should possess the option to reveal the presence of longdesc to all users.

A longdesc provides for rich, expressive documentation of a visual image. It is used when alt is insufficient to embody the visual qualities of an image. The aim is to use any length of description necessary to impart the details of the graphic. If the information contained in an image is important to the meaning (i.e. some important content would be lost to the visually impaired or blind if the image was removed), longdesc should be used. A programmatically-determined  longdesc serves a very specific and most critical use for blind and non-visual users.

Sometimes this content won't fit on the same page or is redundant for sighted users. For the majority of sighted users a longdesc is not needed. A sighted person can see what is being described. So they typically wouldn't need an explanation. Providing it visually would be extra verbiage that most authors/designers would be reluctant to include visually on a page because of redundancy and aesthetics.

However, providing the ability to optionally expose longdesc to all users would have benefits. 


It would: 
* Allow longdesc to keep its purpose in aiding those with disabilities.
* Provide a practical method for developers who want a tool to check longdesc and keep it up to date.
* Allow everyone access to longdesc content aiding universal design. 


User agents could make the longdesc link visible and a functional hyperlink on demand (not by default) by providing a preference or switch in the browser or user agent. 

Maybe something like Patrick Lauke's Firefox longdesc extension, which adds a "view long description" to the image context menu.

Other strategies to support longdesc natively in a User Agent, and allow the user a set of exposure options also exist as Gregory J. Rosmaita has pointed out:

The key is that the UA should support LONGDESC natively, and allow the user a set of choices about exposing LONGDESC:

* expose in new browser instance
* expose in new browser tab
* expose inline (insert content as object)
* expose inline through the use of IFrame
* expose the contents of the longdesc document in a side-bar, aligned with the image it describes 
Comment 1 Ian 'Hixie' Hickson 2010-08-16 21:59:18 UTC
EDITOR'S RESPONSE: This is an Editor's Response to your comment. If you are satisfied with this response, please change the state of this bug to CLOSED. If you have additional information and would like the editor to reconsider, please reopen this bug. If you would like to escalate the issue to the full HTML Working Group, please add the TrackerRequest keyword to this bug, and suggest title and text for the tracker issue; or you may create a tracker issue yourself, if you are able to do so. For more details, see this document:

Status: Rejected
Change Description: no spec change
Rationale: Per the following working group decision, longdesc="" is obsolete:
Comment 2 Leif Halvard Silli 2010-08-16 23:01:05 UTC
ISSUE-30 has been appealed, and the Appeal is awaiting response from the Team Contact and/or Director.
Comment 3 Ian 'Hixie' Hickson 2010-08-17 18:50:45 UTC
Please don't reopen unless the appeal succeeds.
Comment 4 Michael Cooper 2010-08-31 13:37:26 UTC

The bug triage sub-team thinks the HTML A11Y TF does not need to formally follow this bug. Original submitters or other interested parties may choose to continue to push this issue on their own. Notes from the sub-team may follow in a separate comment.
Comment 5 Michael Cooper 2010-08-31 13:38:45 UTC
Bug triage sub-team says this isn't specific to accessibility; it addresses the criticism that people don't like hidden accessibility attributes, but doesn't affect the accessibility itself; still good for UAs to support, but not a spec requirement issue; and AUs should make visible to editor.
Comment 6 Laura Carlson 2010-11-02 17:17:48 UTC

Request for longdesc support in web browsers by Adam Sampson, 2004-02-21
Comment 7 Laura Carlson 2010-11-10 12:12:40 UTC

User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 3.1.1 - Identify Presence of Alternative Content.

"The user has the ability to have indicators rendered along with rendered elements that have alternative content (e.g. visual icons rendered in proximity of content which has short text alternatives, long descriptions, or captions)."
Comment 8 Laura Carlson 2011-03-14 13:26:19 UTC
Access to the content of the longdesc attribute for the sighted should be similar to television closed captions. Closed captions are encoded or invisible to the sighted by default and must be decoded or made visible. There is a reason that closed captions (as opposed to open captions) are the default on televisions. Sighted people rarely require them. To them, they are visual noise. Clutter. Redundant. But if a sighted person wants to enable closed captions, they can do so via a user preference built into the system menu. It is a user choice. Televisions do not have a default on-screen visual indicator. There is no forced visual encumbrance. This is by design. 

longdesc is not hidden meta-data. "Hidden meta-data" is not an accurate description of attributes such as longdesc. Rather the term should be "discoverable meta-data", for which user agents and authoring tools can and should offer access according to user preference. 

Today, longdesc is available to any user agent that wants to make it available to its users. Germane to the "hidden meta-data" fallacy is the fact that the Web is not a visual medium. It never has been. It's an electronic communication medium, both audio and visual, both print and screen etc. It is multi-modal. Perhaps some web developers concentrate on a particular media type more than another. And perhaps on many web sites, sighted, dexterous, able-bodied users outnumber users with a disability. But the strengths, the beauty of the web, what makes it unique as a medium of communication, is that it isn't limited to a single output.
Comment 9 Laura Carlson 2011-03-14 13:27:16 UTC
From the Implementing User Agent Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Editors' Draft 11 March 2011: 

"3.1.2 Configurable Default Rendering: The user has a global option to specify which types of alternative content by default..."

"3.1.3 Browse and Render: The user can browse the alternatives, switch between them, and render them according to the following (Level A)...non-synchronized alternatives (e.g., short text alternatives, long descriptions) can be rendered as replacements for the original rendered content."
Comment 10 Laura Carlson 2011-03-14 13:27:58 UTC
Reopening as Issue 30 has been reopened.
Comment 11 Sam Ruby 2011-03-15 01:53:08 UTC
(In reply to comment #7)
> Reopening bug since Issue 30 has been reopened.

Presumably, when Ian said "appeal succeeds", he was not referring to the intermediate step of the issue being reopened, but rather to the entire process.

A status of OPEN means that the ball is in the editor's court.  A status of RESOLVED coupled with TrackerIssue means that the ball is the WG's court.
Comment 12 Laura Carlson 2011-03-15 08:07:38 UTC
> Presumably, when Ian said "appeal succeeds", he was not referring to the
> intermediate step of the issue being reopened, but rather to the entire
> process.

Ian, Is that what you meant?
Comment 13 steve faulkner 2014-02-10 09:53:57 UTC
cloned this bug to image description spec as that is where it needs to be resolved