For a while now there has been a battle raging between accessibility advocates and those who are most closely involved in drafting the HTML 5 specification.
I’ve bravely kept out of much of it as it’s been quite acrimonious and I am, as you might have realised, a delicate flower. (Actually, since I’ve been working from home on my own, I do take things much more to heart than I used to. Silly me).
The biggest arguments have been over the alt attribute for images. At some point, HTML 5 allowed alt to be optional; a huge flamewar erupted and now there is a massive lump of text in the spec discussing alternate text. I think this is wrong, and the spec should simply make alt mandatory (while noting that it may be blank) and point to WCAG for guidance; it is, after all, the authoring guide to accessibility from the W3C
On the debate on the
summary attribute on
table sees me side with my chums on the HTML 5 cabal. Now that we have ARIA attributes like
aria-describedby, and HTML 5 elements like
details (which “represents additional information or controls which the user can obtain on demand” – see the details element spec) I think there are better ways of doing it. (I feel the same about
I’m suspicious of invisible screenreader-only elements. A long time ago, I worked with kids with learning difficulties—autism and Down Syndrome—and can’t help thinking that the information that’s usually in
summary to provide a mental map of a data table to blind people would be as useful to those kids. (This discussion is taking place on Gez Lemon’s blog, in a very pleasant tone, I’m glad to report).
Anyway, yesterday Janina Sajka, the Chair of the W3C‘s Protocols and Formats Working Group pronounced on the two matters I discuss above in a document called WAI CG Consensus Resolutions on Text alternatives in HTML 5 which is worth a read (it’s neither long nor complex). I don’t know what happens now procedurally but hopefully it’ll put an end to those battles and everyone can have a lovely big group hug and a sing-song.
Until we get started on the accessibility of the
canvas element, that is.
More of my brilliant observations on HTML 5 accessibility: