ankhorite (ankhorite) wrote in suggestions,

ALT tags to describe icons for blind users

ALT tags to describe icons for blind users

Short, concise description of the idea
Our userpic icons do not presently have the ability have an ALT tag which can describe them to low-vision or blind users.

Full description of the idea
I have a blind friend who reads my journal and numerous other journals. For her to "see" our userpic icons, we presently have to type out a description in the body of our post, which is tiresome, repetitive, and clutters things up for sighted friends.

An extra blank should be added to the userpic icon upload page. Right now, we have the keyword blank, and the comment blank. There should be a third blank, "ALT", in which we could type brief descriptions. Then, a blind user could "look" at the userpic icon and "see" what it says. The ALT tag attribute blank should be optional, just like the comment blank is (and the keyword blank is not).

An ordered list of benefits
  • 1. Bring LiveJournal into better compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
  • 2. Make the site more friendly and useful to disabled users and their families and friends.
  • 3. Make the LiveJournal experience more complete for vision-impaired people; mitigate the present appearance of being a disability-unfriendly site.
An ordered list of problems/issues involved
  • 1. Programmer time to change the icon-upload interface.
  • 2. Probably only those users with blind / low-vision friends or who are blind / low-vision themselves will bother to put ALT tag descriptions on their userpic icons, so the additional burden on the servers should be minimal.
  • 3. This is a very easy fix and the right thing to do morally, legally, and in terms of public relations. Nonetheless, some people might complain about being "too nice." They should be ignored or smacked down, but that will make them grumpy and whiny.
  • 4. I don't know if Gallery images permit an ALT tag because I don't use my Gallery. However, even if they do not, adding ALT functionality to the Galleries, which few people use, seems a lot less important than adding ALT functionality to the userpic icons, which appear on almost every post.
A postscript

kightp's comment below provides a link to WebAIM's explanation of screen readers, which may help non-blind users understand the need for this suggestion. WebAIM is the acronym for the group Web Accessibility In Mind.
Tags: accessibility, user interface, userpics, § implemented differently
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