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Specification of authoring conformance requirments in HTML5

Editor: Steve Faulkner (

Date: 17 August, 2010

Please address feedback to the HTML Working Group mailing list (

Resolves ISSUE-116


There are currently 2 sets of author conformance requirements, published by the W3C HTML working group, for the use of the alt attribute in HTML5. They differ widely in design philosophy, format and requirements. Since neither can claim to be authoritative or represent the consensus of the working group, readers of either specification should be made aware of the status and existance of the alternative set of authoring requirements. To do otherwise is misleading and contrary to the best interests of consumers of the HTML5 specification.


Provide a neutral statement in each specification about the presence of the other set of requirments and how they relate to each other. For example, HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives provides the following:

"This specification is an extension to the HTML5 specification [HTML5]. All normative content in the HTML5 specification, unless specifically overridden by this specification, is intended to be the basis for this specification.

This specification is a replacement for the sections to of the HTML5 specification and all of the normative and non normative content of the sections there-in."

It is requested that text along similiar lines is included at the start of Requirements for providing text to act as an alternative for images

It is also requested that the "Status: Last call for comments" be removed from any of the sections in question as this is simply an untrue statement.


Any reader of the Requirements for providing text to act as an alternative for images or HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives will be made aware that The requirements and advice therein is not authoritative or agreed upon by the HTML working group. Thus people will not labour under the false impression that either document contains the authoritative or agreed upon requirements for the use of alt in HTML5.

Positive Effects

  • Provide consumers of the spec with clear understanding of the status of what is defined in the spec in regards to alt authoring requirements.
  • Gives more people a chance to review and provide feedback on both sets of requirements.

Negative Effects

  • may make readers of the spec aware that the HTML5 specification is less mature and stable than they thought.

Conformance Classes Changes