Visual display of alternative text

The fact that web browsers have different ways of displaying alternative text when images are missing or disabled is something that I talked about in Safari, WebKit and alt text for missing images and Steve Faulkner expanded on in alt and title content display in popular browsers.

In How should Web browsers render alternative text?, Vlad Alexander asks (and answers) a few questions on this topic:

  • Should alternative text be displayed when images are not rendered? (Yes.)
  • Should alternative text be displayed inside the image outline? (No.)
  • Should an icon be displayed to indicate the content is from an image? (No.)
  • Should alternative text be displayed differently when image rendering is turned off, versus failure to download images? (No.)

His conclusion, which I largely agree with, is that the textual alternative content alone should replace visual content when it is not rendered.

I do think that it may be valuable to the user if there is some visual indication when the alternative text is displayed because an image is missing, but I think it should be less obtrusive than the icon that many browsers currently display.

Posted on March 4, 2010 in Accessibility, Browsers

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