Proper use of the "alt" attribute

Sometimes we need to fine tune our understanding of XHTML concepts. The proper use of the “alt” attribute and the “title” attribute are both one of those fuzzy areas that could use more attention. In my classes I always emphasize the importance of the “alt” attribute with images to assist those users of your site who cannnot see the graphics on your site for a variety of reasons including users using screenreaders to “see” the screen. Roger Johansson, of 456 Berea Street, has written a brief discussion of this feature which points out when to use “alt” text and when it is not appropriate also. He suggests not using alt text when you actually want a tool tip (small pop up text as used with the “title” attribute). He goes on to discuss the use of the “title” attribute, of which there is little literature as to the semantic use of it in our documents. Additional references to this discussion from Simon Willison’s Writing good ALT text and Ian Hickson’s Mini FAQ About the Alternate Text of Images.


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