@cheri Thanks for sharing these pictures, and thanks for including alternative text. It makes them so enjoyable.
@klandwehr I only learned about it last year, and it's very cool. Alt-text is when you type in a short description of your photo for people who are visually impaired, so they can "see" the photos too. Manton added a feature where you can tap on a photo after you upload it and add a brief description, to make it easy.
Without alt-text, a person with visual impairment might be reading a conversation about a photo, with no way of knowing what it is people are talking about. I imagine that's pretty frustrating, so now that I know about alt-text I take an extra 10 seconds and type in photo descriptions whenever the technology allows.
@herself In the iOs app you can tap the photo after uploading, then there's a prompt to add the description. On the website I go back into the post and add the alt-text to the uploaded picture after hitting publish. (the alt-text marker is there, all you have to do is type the description between the quotation marks).
@cheri @klandwehr I'm afraid I'm going to be a pedant and say that's not what the role of alt text is. Alt stands for alternate and its job is to replace the image (on a web page). There's another thing called Description which takes the describing role. Here's an example from a web page: I include a photo of my dog. I might describe the dog in the alt text as that would replace the photo for someone who can't see the image. At the end of the page I have an image of an arrow to go to the next page. I don't describe that arrow, but instead the Alt text is next page. Some images, such as frilly borders, for example, would have no alt text as they're purely decorative.
@cheri I think if viewing it as bad manners helps you do it more, that's cool, but I like the reward-not-guilt approach to accessibility if it's possible. With all the Gutenberg drama last year we finally had to start resorting to guilt/punishment/anger instead of reward and I think that was the part that broke my heart about the whole thing the most.
@jw A considerate idea, but unless you have to distinguish the arrow from, say, an elephant, then no. It could even be detrimental. Many people find alt text useful, including those on slow Internet connections, but especially blind people who may be listening to the page. Unnecessary words add to the page's size (a million visitors all get that extra stuff so it adds up), add to the time taken to listen to or load a page and would get annoying very fast.
@Miraz and it's certainly confusing. I think perhaps this writeup from MDN explains what you meant?
“Note that the contents of the alt attribute should always provide a direct representation of the image and what it conveys visually. Any personal knowledge or extra description shouldn't be included here, as it is not useful for people who have not come across the image before.
One thing to consider is whether your images have meaning inside your content, or whether they are purely for visual decoration, so have no meaning. If they are decorational, it is better to write an empty text as a value for alt attribute (see Empty alt attributes) or to just include them in the page as CSS background images.”
@jw I apologise that my tone has become ‘off’. That was definitely not my intention. ‘Elephant’ was clearly a poor choice of words on my part. The essential consideration is not to describe the image but to replace it. The two may converge sometimes, but at other times will be clearly distinct.
@jw Indeed, it does explain it. If an image has a function (eg next page) then alt text should state that function. If it has no function beyond looking pretty then alt text should be left blank. If it is an integral part of a page / blog post, eg I'm writing about my cute dog, then it may be appropriate to use descriptive alt text, along the lines of “small white dog chasing a ball with ears flying”.