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split out and modify parts of Section the img element Change Proposal

The following is a Change Proposal for Section the img element to:

  1. Resolve ISSUE-31: What to do when a reasonable text equivalent is unknown/unavailable?

Editor: Steve Faulkner (faulkner.steve@gmail.com)

Date: December 9, 2009. (updated August 8 2010)

Please address feedback to the HTML Working Group mailing list (public-html@w3.org).


Splitting out and rewriting of text alternative examples to make them more usable and understandable to a wider audience and provide supporting material to aid comprehension and relate the recommendations to the relevant W3C web content accessibility guidelines 2.0 criteria and techniques.


For splitting out the text alternative: To provide an expanded and more usable version of the content related to text alternatives currently provided in the HTML5 specification, that fully integrates with W3C WAI recommendation on the provision of text alternatives. To provide a standalone document on the subject produced by the HTML working group reflecting the importance of the provision of text alternatives. To satisfy HTML WG Action 131, to satisfy the bug Implement the text alternatives proposal from WAI related to Issue 31 and the WAI CG Consensus Resolutions on Text alternatives in HTML 5.

To remove the specific conformance requirements for text alternatives provided in the content of non empty alt attributes. As the non machine-checkable text alternative conformance requirements in HTML5 are not tied to any practical measurement or consequence of non-conformance. As the rigidity of the current conformance requirements does not reflect the diversity of real world uses and constraints for the use of the alt attribute for providing text alternatives to those that require them. The relating of text alternative provision recommendations to practical considerations of current user agent support, intended (specified) support and requirements to a published standard (WCAG 2.0) will result in a more robust, creditable, usable and useful set of HTML5 text alternative recommendations.


Remove the sections to under Requirements for providing text to act as an alternative for images. In place of these sections include a link to the W3C editors draft specification 'HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives'. This document contains content that updates, modifies and expands upon the sections removed from the HTML5 specification, it is a work in progress (further development of the document is being out collaboratively as part of the accessibility Task Force work).

Modification of section General guidelines bring it into line with the changes made elsewhere.


Replace the sections to under Requirements for providing text to act as an alternative for images with the sections starting from intoduction and ending after 13. CAPTCHA Images of HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives


Positive Effects

  • The splitting out of the text alternative sections will provide the opportunity to improve and expand on the current content.
    • Provide references and harmonization of recommendations and terms in relation to the relevant sections of the W3C web content accessibility guidelines 2.0.
    • Provide clearer formatting of content and addition of images to aid understanding of examples.
    • Provide less jargon in examples, making the examples more useful and understandable to a wider range of HTML authors.
    • Integrate examples demonstrating the use of WAI-ARIA to augment the provision of text alternatives.
    • Include examples for the provision of long descriptions for complex images.
    • Elevate the profile of the information by producing a HTML WG document dedicated to the subject.
    • Improve the discoverability and usability of the information by disentangling it from the highly technical browser related content of the HTMl5 specification.
    • Free up the HTML5 editors time, to work on other aspects of the specification.
    • Allow a range of subject matter experts to have more input into the content and style of the recommendations.
    • Make it easier to publish updated versions of the recommendations as changes to user agent support and new research for methods of providing text alternatives necessitates modification of the specification.

Conformance Classes Changes

Remove specific conformance requirements on the content of non empty alt attributes.


The inclusion of conformance requirements for HTML5 in a sperate document may lead to inconstencies if the editor of HTML5 and the editor of the HTML5 Text alternative document do not work to ensure inconstencies are removed from the 2 documents as and when they arise. This can be mitigated by ensuring that all normative authoring requirements for the use of the alt attribute on the img are only included in the HTML5 alt spec and that any informative examples in the HTML5 spec do not contradict the HTML5 alt spec.