Podcast #83: Fate of Longdesc in HTML5

What’s the fate of the “longdesc” attribute in HTML5? Can or should the “aria-labelledby” ARIA attribute replace it? These are some of the controversial issues discussed by Dennis and guests John Foliot (@johnfoliot), Everett Zufelt (@ezufelt), and Joe Dolson (@joedolson).

Download Web Axe Episode 83 (Fate of Longdesc in HTML5)

[transcript of podcast 83]

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5 comments

  1. Denis Boudreau

    Awesome discussion. Thanks Dennis for putting that up for the rest of us and getting the word out on @longdesc.

    I don’t think aria-describedby measures up to the potential of @longdesc and any piece on information that supports this is a helpful addition to the case we need to build in the HTML-WG to save @longdesc.

  2. Suzanne Taylor

    We need longdesc for educational settings. Statistics on how it is used on personal blogs, news sites, e commerce sites, entertainment sites, etc are irrelevant to the need in education. We can’t limit html to meet only the most common use! In education, complex images are needed or we disadvantage the learners for whom that’s the best way to learn. longdesc is programmatically connected to the image & a simple js script can make it visible to all, or it can be just for non-visual access. Some say that the general text can be used or expanded as the longdesc. That’s just not always true. While it is always necessary to provide the info that the image provides, in education, sometimes what the image looks like is the point of the image. Then the longdesc must describe what that looks like and trying to do that while also working the text into the main content will result in a poor quality longdesc. Also, there are lots of learning objectives and goals and usability factors to consider on a page. Pages may have length limits, etc. Better to have a way to add longdesc that won’t conflict with other requirements. And, we’re always free to create a link to the longdesc page for all users, in cases where that makes sense.

  3. billcreswell

    Firstly, thanks for the transcript. The mp3 wasn’t working for me.chrome tried to play it but did’t. browser implementation issues, maybe :)

    I don’t mind having both solutions, if thats the problem I just think @longdesc seems more semantic.

    I think the problem of usage is that the average content developer cannot decide whether a title and alt tag adequately describe an image.

    I’ve never personally used a longdesc or aria-described-by (or however you type that. My main issue with that tag is complexity).

    I don’t know where even the gray area begins, in developing a extended textual description of an image, which often is an extension or explanation of material already covered in an article.

    E.G. Should the longdesc of a bar graph include the results of every bar, and the alt describe a trend?

    Does every image need a longdesc?

    The alt tag of an image shows the leaders of our company.

    Should it include that longdesc:

    “Roger, Dick, Dale and Jack, standing atop a building overlooking Grand Rapids the skyline, circa 2001, including a view of the Grand River, and the Amway Grand Plaza. Title says “We Can See Your Company From Here”.

    Should that be included? Or is that information not relevant/pertinent?

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