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Author Topic: 5 Reasons to use Alt-text and Image Captions (Beyond Accessibility)  (Read 931 times)
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« on: August 29, 2022 @801.18 »

Excuse the clickbaity title, but I have recently thought about alt-texts and captioning, and how it can help people beyond """only""" being accessible.

  • Obviously, accessibility. Blind people and people with bad vision can enjoy your content which they otherwise couldn't. This extends not only to entertainment, but also education, troubleshooting, socializing and much more.
  • No more image/link rot. Don't you hate that smug Photobucket smiley looking straight in your face stating that an image is no longer available? Hate broken image links because the hoster went down? Many old websites are now unusable because images with vital content in them (e.g. tutorials with images) were taken down upon the death of an image hoster. There aren't many good ways to combat that particular problem, but captioning images can help people in a few years or even decades understand what you meant, even if the accompanying picture is now gone.
  • Machine readability. Words are keywords, images are useless. Want to be indexed by a search engine? Well, your picture of text won't matter unless you have either alt text or captioning. Also, language research projects can use your text as data - how cool is that?
  • Backwards compatibility. Some browsers, especially old ones, cannot display images, or have serious formatting issues with them. Some others display only text by design, like text based browsers for your terminal; some computers are so old that they do not have a graphical interface at all, or are designed that way. I use Lynx sometimes, a text based browser, and I love when a site is simple and straightforward and displays without loss of information right in my terminal.
  • Inclusivity towards people with slow internet connections. Ever tried looking up a website with a 500B/s connection? They can turn off image loading to make it bearable, but then they might miss vital information.

Hopefully this can motivate some of you to use alt-text and captions more on your websites.
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k4jtek
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2022 @761.72 »

Some browsers, especially old ones, cannot display images, or have serious formatting issues with them. Some others display only text by design, like text based browsers for your terminal;

I approve. I don't use it much, but I love websites which are usable with lynx. I like command line solutions in general.

Also it's good you've mentioned weak machines and people with slow internet connection. Even for me, sometimes loading a heavy website with high-res images and JavaScript is a pain, and not on a dial-up speeds, but on my cellular connection or school WiFi. Can't even imagine how slow must it be for people who have only acces to non-LTE cellular network or other slow mediums. Not even speaking of weak machines like feature phones or old PCs and their low resolution displays (browsing on 1366x768 can already be a pain).
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Gans
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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2022 @836.10 »

A text browser is actually the fastest internet expierience you can get. Try w3m on Linux or "Links" (got a current update this year) on DOS. Loading times of less than a millisecond can only be achieved through throwing all images and formatting out of the window. In the attachments there is how it looks in Lynx. I always add the file size to the alt-text to tell the old browser users how big that file would be, if they try to load it. Looking like: "Photo, 34KB: Image description". Also, that underlines how bloddy efficent converting images to a lower number of colours can be.

Wasn't it the old Internet Explorer that displayed the alt-text when hovering over the image for some seconds?


* lynx-alt.gif (10.68 kB, 654x366 - viewed 125 times.)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2022 @268.52 by Gans » Logged
k4jtek
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« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2022 @863.63 »

Wooow it's amazing and as fast as you said. Don't like the Windows version tho.

Sent using lynx from my phone (using Termux)
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2022 @909.44 »

Im super guilty of using way too many big gifs and images, and i think alt text and image captions are awesome, but apparently not awesome enough to have implemented them anywhere on my sites. Its kind of ridiculous because I love describing things and I needa get off my butt and start.
I have never heard of Lynx before, and i find that really interesting and exciting, and I think both the original post and finding out about that is definitely starting a snowball. I can't wait to try... Its like reading sites like a book... Thats so cool
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Zusk
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2022 @928.87 »

I never knew about this :eyes:
My site's backend isn't the best, so refining it for things like phone use and older computers sounds worthwhile.
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Guest
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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2022 @977.15 »

Im super guilty of using way too many big gifs and images, and i think alt text and image captions are awesome, but apparently not awesome enough to have implemented them anywhere on my sites. Its kind of ridiculous because I love describing things and I needa get off my butt and start.
I have never heard of Lynx before, and i find that really interesting and exciting, and I think both the original post and finding out about that is definitely starting a snowball. I can't wait to try... Its like reading sites like a book... Thats so cool

I mean, that is basically what the internet was intended to be: a way to serve static documents from other computers to yours, wirelessly. Early browsers also let you theme websites locally — font size, styles, textures, colors... It was meant to be simply formatted text sites with information on it. At some point, the internet just started to grow like a tumor and demanded more and more features: hardcoded styles, frames, interactivity, 3D rendering, random code, cookies... Some of it beneficial, other things contradicting the point of the internet in my opinion.

This blog post is a good manifesto against that: Internet of Bloat.

Check out https://www.xhtml.club or motherfuckingwebsite for examples on how to do different.
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