Semantic elements and attributes
provide a higher level of communication. While a
figcaption can be used as a valid replacement for
alt to supply a context dependant
caption of an image constrained to being inside of
a figure, it does not provide an explicit, and strong semantic for
an image long description. Terse and verbose
descriptors differ. As Gregory
J. Rosmaita aptly explained,
alt text is the brief "at a glance" or "cognative thumbnail"... alt text needs to be terse for a number of reasons, including usability, extremely limited viewports, small amount of video "real estate" (iPad and smaller devices) etc.
The prevailing rationale for
figcaption change proposal
figcaption was not a long description
but rather a short description:
figcaptionelement exposes a short description of the
figcaptioncontent, which may be read out to help a user determine if they wish to look at the content of
figcaptionnow or later.
With the one exception of Firefox on Windows
figcaption is not accessibility supported semantics
wise. HTML5 accessibility
states that it,
provides the same amount of semantic information to AT as a
figcaption technique would force a visual encumbrance on sighted
users unless additional code (in the form of CSS or
hidden) were added in order to hide the visual
indicator. Please refer to Cascading Style
details of why using these techniques is a bad idea.
figcaption technique lacks the key functional
requirement of providing a long
description in a separate document.
Attempting to use
figcaption to provide a long
description reinvents the wheel by duplicating a basic method that
has already previously been created.
No use cases of
figcaption for a long
description has been presented that are not already
No tutorials, books, or documentation exists that explain to
authors how to make an accessible long text alternative with
No examples in the wild of accessible long text alternatives
figcaption have been presented for any of the use
cases. No evidence exists that authors have or will use it for
accessible long text alternatives.
figcaption technique lacks all backwards compatibility. It is not:
For further rationale please consult the backwards compatibility document.
Any proposed solution should be easy for authors who are already
publishing content with
longdesc to retrofit their
figcaption is new and possesses a radically
different authoring pattern than
longdesc. Because of
this as well as its on-page limitations, retrofitting with
figcaption would be difficult, labor intensive, and
No retrofitting is required for
longdesc as it is an existing HTML feature not a new one.
No evidence has been presented that
produces more accessible content for long descriptions than
longdesc or that more authors would use it