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Taken From The Forum: Help & Support for DHTML Menu Version 5+
Forum Topic: Click to view post
Last Updated: Saturday July 14 2012 - 06:07:23

Accessibility - Section 508 - ALT Tags

Poster: dfruchey
Dated: Tuesday July 29 2003 - 18:36:07 BST

We are testing the menu right now for use sitewide where I work. When I use a screen reader (JAWS 4.51) a sample menu read aloud:

Graphic. Link. Camping. Graphic. L1. (for line 1)

If there were ALT tags in the image code I could insert blank comments in the ALT tags and then the code would just read aloud as:

Link. Camping.

This is much preferred, we are trying to make this as useful as possible for blind and low vision visitors. Can you tell me a way to add this functionality or can you add it in your next revision?

Poster: Andy
Dated: Tuesday July 29 2003 - 23:35:43 BST

This is something that we would love to implement.

The only problem I have with this is doing it correctly.

What exactly do you think we should do?

Adding images and allowing you to declare an alt tag is one way but isn't there a way to do this with plain text?

The reason I ask is because I don't know enough about how to do this. Do you have any demos or URL's I can try out.


Poster: John
Dated: Tuesday August 5 2003 - 17:21:12 BST

Use the title tag, Andy. I'm pretty sure JAWS will go for that.

I have titles in place at and

Poster: Andy
Dated: Wednesday August 6 2003 - 10:39:49 BST


You mean the title at the top of the browser window or something else?

Sorry if i'm being dumb ;)


Poster: Hergio
Dated: Wednesday August 6 2003 - 13:11:06 BST

In HTML image tags, there are attributes you can set that will allow page readers to correctly describe an image to the surfer. Obviously they can't see the image and instead of reading the image filename to the user, you can specify attributes in the img tag that will be read. The Alt tag and the name tag are two you can try. When you pause your mouse over an image, the little box that pops up is the alt tag at work, I believe this is what the screen reader will read.

<img src="/images2/aqua_clock.gif" alt="Picture of Clock" name="Aqua Clock" width="25" height="28" border="0" id="aquaClock">

You should probably put in the ablity so that when you specify subimage, you can also be able to say imageAlt = "" and your code, when it writes out the html for the subimage, throws in the alt tag.

Hope this was kinda what you were looking for Andy.

Poster: Andy
Dated: Wednesday August 6 2003 - 14:06:50 BST

Thanks for that.

The only problem is that IE is the only browser that displays the ALT in a tool-tip.

Do you know if this matters and that text readers can still see the ALT text even though the browser does nothing with it.


Poster: John
Dated: Wednesday August 6 2003 - 14:37:36 BST

Andy wrote:
You mean the title at the top of the browser window or something else?
Sorry if i'm being dumb ;)

Not at all - you know how I get from some of our private messages :!: :roll:

Anyway, title as in the HTML tag, used like this in the menu...
aI("text=ASU West;url=;title=ASU West home page;status=ASU West home page");

Poster: Andy
Dated: Wednesday August 6 2003 - 14:45:36 BST

So it's the status then? :P

-- Andy

Poster: John
Dated: Wednesday August 6 2003 - 14:50:58 BST

In this case title and status happen to be the same. However, I don't think JAWS understands status, but does read title. Haven't has a chance to test that, however.

Poster: Hergio
Dated: Wednesday August 6 2003 - 20:59:48 BST

I downloaded the trial version of JAWS just to see what it would do. Basically, when it comes to hyperlinks and text, the title tag really doesn't mean anything. The screen reader reads the text of the link, but informs the user that its a link.
When it comes to images, you can specify what the reader does. By default, if no ALT or TITLE attributes of the IMG tag are set, it says "graphic" + filename + "DOT GIF" or to that effect. You can go into settings and tell the reader to either read the TITLE tag or the ALT tag if both are specified. So its preference to some extent.

Its generally more popular to have the ALT tag set instead of the title tag. The reason being, when someone uses a screen reader such as JAWS, or has their graphics turned off, the browser will take the ALT tag and put it in the place of the image. So the reader would read that text and the browser would show it as preformatted text.

So Andy, I would say that if you were to implement this into the menu, you should have a "subimageALT" attribute that could be set that would put in an ALT tag for any subimages so it would make the menu more friendly to people who use these devices. But thats just my two cents, dfruchey would probably have a more accurate and credible opinion. :)

Poster: toasterhead2k
Dated: Thursday August 14 2003 - 16:27:37 BST

I think the easiest way to get around this, if Section 508 is a requirement for your menu, is to put <img> tags in the text field of the array and include the necessary alt attribute. It's difficult to predict how different screen readers will interpret the Javascript, but nearly all of them will pick up an alt attribute when they come across a graphic.

If it's possible to send a default alt="" attribute with the standard arrows that come with the menu, that could also help satisfy the requirements. I argue that the arrows are merely eye-candy, and not providing any real information, other than a visual cue that there's an additional sub-menu. A screen reader that properly reads the menu should tell the user that there's a sub-menu by default. On my site, we've also tried to replicate the links of our menu in a sitemap and on the appropriate sub-pages to provide redundancy for those who can't use the menu.

One other important accessibility issue that I haven't seen addressed in this thread is the "skip repetitive navigation" clause. This is possibly more important than the alt tag issue - without it, blind users are forced to listen to every item on the menu before getting to the meat of the page.

On my site, I put a one-pixel gif at the top of the first item in the menu that links to a "content" anchor just above the page content, with alt text that says "Skip navigation menu". It's invisible to most users, but very useful to those with voice browsers.

If there are any ideas here that can be incorporated into the menu, great! If not, there are some easy workarounds to make the menu 508 compliant.

Poster: Maz
Dated: Monday August 18 2003 - 22:02:49 BST

Please correct me if I'm wrong on disability access:

I need to use title & alt tags.
I have no need to use status.
I turn the first item image(blank) into a link to the top of the page, include alt tag to skip menu.

I have a horizontal and left vertical menu, I place a link to the top of page in both. (any chance I'm creating a loop or missing a menu?)

In the vertical xpmenu, the first image has no value, only text to showmenu, so I added a link to top of page. Smart thinking... not!

Because of followscroll, the top menu item runs off the top of the page.
1 hidden pixel did the same thing. It will work if I allow 18-20px in height to run off the top of the page.


Poster: John
Dated: Tuesday August 19 2003 - 0:17:36 BST

Wrote to the JAWS folks asking very specifically for info on what the reader is looking for (tags, etc.) to make it talk. Got this back...
Thank you for contacting Freedom Scientific technical Support. After discussing your issue with our escalations team, you will need to consult the pages below for more on 508 compliance. If we can be of any additional assistance, feel free to email me back.

I wrote back, as suggested (not sure why). No response yet.

Too bad more folks don't know how to read. It would make things so much easier.

Poster: Maz
Dated: Tuesday August 19 2003 - 6:50:24 BST

I think the best solution is to find a blind volunteer.

Poster: Hergio
Dated: Tuesday August 19 2003 - 13:46:29 BST

I was really hoping dfruchey would put alittle input into this thread, since he/she made the request and could give us some good insight.

Poster: John
Dated: Tuesday August 19 2003 - 14:50:01 BST

I work with disabled folks on a daily basis here. My site must be 508/W3C compliant (although I am lacking a bit here and there :oops: ). It's relatively easy to meet those specs, but the problem is without more info from JAWS, etc., about exactly what they're looking for, it gets a little tough for Andy to write something that will respond.

So far they've been less than helpful.