Server-supplied alt text

Many people use media-focused CDNs or DAMs to manage and host/deliver their media resources.

Many of these image CDNs/DAMs have metadata fields for storing alt text / image descriptions. Right now, there’s no way for these hosts to deliver those descriptions along with image responses in a way that browsers will use. Authors who use image CDNs/DAMs as the source of truth for alt text, must generally figure out a CDN-specific way to request that metadata separately, and populate the alt attribute with it.

Should there be a standard way to send descriptions along with image responses?

Keep in mind that the best alt text is written with an awareness of an image’s context within the page. HTML alt should always have precedence over any image-response-bundled alt.

That said, Cloudinary has received repeated requests for recommended flows for using our media management interface as a place to describe images—and our CDNs to deliver them, and as the linked blog post above indicates, our answers are often uncomfortably complicated.

I think Proposal: HTML use of remote alt text; matching extension/formalization for HTTP Content-Disposition & MIME · Issue #309 · w3c/html-aam · GitHub would solve this.

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Totally. I’ll begin following progress on that issue, and contributing where I can, thanks for the pointer!

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