Newsletter 15

12 February, 2015

In this issue

  1. YouTube videos watched by 4% more people when captioned
  2. Training Course - Web Accessibility Essentials
  3. The Title attribute
  4. Stat of the week

YouTube videos watched by 4% more people when captioned

A study by Google has found that videos on YouTube are watched by 4% more people if they are captioned. Search engines (like people without headphones or speakers, people in a poor listening environment or people with a hearing impairment) cannot accurately identify the content of audio tracks. Professional transcripts are indexed by Google; automatic captions are not indexed because they contain too many errors.

Brad Ellis, from Google explained that, "We did an experiment with one partner a year ago and saw just by captioning videos in the same language, they were English videos with English captions, we did a scientific A/B test and saw a 4% increase in views and watch time on YouTube. And then imagine what that could be if you're making it accessible in more languages."

Training Course - Web Accessibility Essentials

The University has more than 1000 students and 1000 staff with a disability. This three-hour course examines the various ways people with disabilities use the University website, the problems they face and how staff can help. The latest standards and techniques for improving web accessibility will be discussed, together with tools that can be used to evaluate websites. Sessions will be held at 9:30am on 26 and 27 February. Location: Lab 2, Level 1, 780 Elizabeth St, Parkville campus.

More information and registration

The Title attribute

The title attribute was included in the first HTML draft, by Tim Berners-Lee and Daniel Connolly, in 1993. An optional attribute, it was intended that "the value of this field should equal the value of the TITLE of the document whose address is given by the HREF attribute."

The title attribute was seen as useful for several reasons:

"The browser software may chose to display the title of the document as a preliminary to retrieving it, for example as a margin note or on a small box while the mouse is over the anchor, or during document fetch."

"Some documents -- mainly those which are not marked up text, such as graphics, plain text and also Gopher menus, do not come with a title themselves, and so putting a title in the link is the only way to give them a title. This is how Gopher works. Obviously it leads to duplication of data, and so it is dangerous to assume that the title attribute of the link is a valid and unique title for the destination document."

In 1999, the HTML 4.01 specification stated that the title attribute "offers advisory information about the element for which it is set."

Here's a photo of <A href="scuba.jpg" title="Me scuba diving">me scuba diving last summer</A>

"Values of the title attribute may be rendered by user agents in a variety of ways. For instance, visual browsers frequently display the title as a 'tool tip' (a short message that appears when the pointing device pauses over an object). Audio user agents may speak the title information in a similar context."

  • Browsers have never come up with a reliable way of displaying title text to keyboard only users
  • Some developers use the title attribute to add redundant information, e.g. <a href="library.html" title="View library information">Library</a>
  • Some developers use the title attribute to include information that should be visible by default, e.g. <label for="dob">Date of birth</label><input id="dob" title="Format dd-mm-yyyy" />
  • Tool tips doesn't really work with touchscreen devices

Steve Faulkner, from the accessibility agency The Paciello Group, has pointed out that several user groups are not well served by use of the title attribute, including mobile phone users, keyboard only users, screen magnifier users, screen reader users, users with fine motor skill impairments and users with cognitive impairments.

  • To provide information about frames and iframes, e.g. <frame src="nav.html" title="Main menu" />
  • To provide information about form input fields, e.g. <input type="text" title="Type search term here" />

The HTML5 specification, which was approved at the end of last year, attempts to clarify the use of the title attribute:

"The title attribute represents advisory information for the element, such as would be appropriate for a tooltip. On a link, this could be the title or a description of the target resource; on an image, it could be the image credit or a description of the image; on a paragraph, it could be a footnote or commentary on the text; on a citation, it could be further information about the source; on interactive content, it could be a label for, or instructions for, use of the element; and so forth."

"Relying on the title attribute is currently discouraged as many user agents do not expose the attribute in an accessible manner as required by this specification (e.g. requiring a pointing device such as a mouse to cause a tooltip to appear, which excludes keyboard-only users and touch-only users, such as anyone with a modern phone or tablet)."

In summary, whilst the original rationale for including the title attribute in HTML remains valid, there are better techniques for achieving the same result. The easiest of these is to display relevant text on screen, rather than hidden away in a title on the off-chance that a user will hover over it with a mouse.

Stat of the week

  • Mobile video makes up 55% of all mobile data traffic
  • By 2019, mobile video will make up 69% of all mobile data traffic
  • The Asia Pacific accounts for 39% of the world's mobile traffic
  • The average monthly data traffic of a tablet is 2.5 times higher than a smartphone

Previous Issues

Previous issues of the Web Accessibility Newsletter are available here.

Contact Andrew Normand, Web Accessibility Program Leader
Phone: +61 3 9035 4867