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How well is the figcaption working?

some alt text
This is some placeholder figcaption text of the image which is a wheelchair user at base of stairs to a computer vote machine for e-democracy.

What if the flow content is not an image?

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Jabberwocky (first verse). Lewis Carroll, 1832-98


Current problems

Accessibility support can be improved but there several fundamental problems that will make it difficult for screen reader users to understand the figure element with the figcaption instead of an alt text.

I don't think we can assume that screen readers will begin to announce that there's a graphic inside the figcaption. Assumptions about longdesc got us into a lot of problems 10 years ago. I think reporting the figure as a role of group could be a problem that will be hard to resolve for screen reader users. Although it semantically is a group, it will take a while for SC users to understand that it in an image inside a group, sometimes and other times not.

I think this belongs in the larger discussion about alt text, and whether we should allow alternives to it. Because currently it is more confusing than aria-labelledby, aria label etc.

HTML5 does *not* allow figcaption as an alternative to alt

The HTML 5 spec only has one specific use case when the figcaption could replace alt text. And that is when the alt text is not available at the time of publication. It includes two important notes.

Note: Such cases are to be kept to an absolute minimum. If there is *even the slightest possibility* of the author having the ability to provide real alternative text, then *it would not be acceptable to omit the alt attribute*

Note: Since some users cannot use images at all (e.g. because they are blind) the alt attribute is only allowed to be omitted when no text alternative is available and none can be made available, as in the above examples. " source

I must confess that I was among those who thought HTML5 said the <figcaption> element was freely interchangeable with the ALT inside a <figure> element, even though the limitation is spelled out in the document in two places.

HTML5 provides no basis for a WCAG Sufficient technique on this. I think this will also help inform the greater discussion around F65. Because I believe most of us thought that there already was an alternative to ALT text allowed in HTML 5 which set a precedent. Any discussion we have about allowing substitutes for ALT, (aria-labelledby, aria-label ...) will have to stand on their own merits without a precedent in HTML 5.