The Long Description (13th February 2008)

(In response to The rise and fall of the LONGDESC from RNIB’s WAC. My reply was greeted by a very long wait, ending with The connection was reset. Bummer.)

Looks like this attribute catches out the best of us!

Adjacent text links visible to all are in WCAG 1.0, called description links. They didn’t catch on because it creates visual clutter:

For images which are not links, you could wrap the image in <a href> where href takes the place of longdesc on <img>. But then some image links will take users to long descriptions whilst others take them to normal pages. That uncertainty is undesirable.

A longdesc inside <a href> is interactive content inside other interactive content. Form controls aren’t allowed inside <a href> or inside other form controls. But text-to-speech devices could treat this as 2 links, side-by-side. Users could then move between them normally and select the one they want.

Findings from The longdesc Lottery used a huge sample size. The proportions are even less hopeful than yours, Bim. HTML Issue-30 longdesc is where its future is being tracked.

Situations where detailed descriptions of graphics are helpful would probably help everyone. Art, fashion, architecture, typography and so on. But in these cases, such descriptions should be the main content, not a separate page?