Time to make the title attribute device independent

In a response to the Working Group Decision on ISSUE-31 / ISSUE-80 validation survey to make images that have no alt attribute conforming (what we normally call “valid”) in HTML5 if they have a title attribute, Steve Faulkner posted a message about device independent title attribute support in browsers.

In his message Steve asks browser vendors if they have any plans on improving their handling of the title attribute to make it more accessible. He raises several issues:

  • Keyboard-only users need to be made aware that an element has a title attribute.
  • Keyboard-only users need a way of accessing the content of title attributes.
  • The display of the title attribute needs to be configurable so that it stays within the viewport for screen magnifier users.
  • Users of mobile and touch-screen devices need to be able to access the title attribute.

These are indeed issues that cause accessibility and cross-device problems, and they need to be fixed.

Fixing them may not be trivial, but it’s odd that no browser (at least not that I am aware of) makes it easy, or even possible, for keyboard-only users to access content in title attributes. It is after all a very common attribute, used on many, many websites, and it often contains important information that currently is hidden from many people.

So, dear browser vendors, how about investing some time in fixing this and making the title attribute device independent?

Posted on April 26, 2011 in Browsers, Accessibility, Usability