Alt text and media types for preformatted text

Caolan McMahon caolan at
Mon Mar 1 09:20:42 GMT 2021

> i feel it's important that accessibility for the vision-impaired 
> be easier to support in clients than syntax highlighting. More 
> generally, my preference is for gemtext documents to be reasonably 
> accessible by default, rather than requiring special efforts to be 
> made accessible (as on the Web, where accessibility often plays 
> second fiddle to resource-gobbling bling).

On the web, it is considered good practice to use alt text for images, and there is pressure from the web development community in this regard. Unfortunately, most web users don't actually see alt text in normal use. So it's always going to be a bit of a second class citizen.

One way I think gemini got this right was in using links for images. It requires a textual description of the image, and it's shown to all users. There's no split in the presentation, everyone is treated that same. I like that.

Unfortunately, alt text for preformatted blocks does introduce content only likely to be seen by a minority of users. The only way I can see around that would be a practice of repeating any visual content in prose descriptions in the surrounding paragraphs. This gives reinforcing content that everyone can see. Unfortunately, I don't know how practical that would be in all cases.

But if anyone has an idea to make preformatted blocks more accessible without hidden content for the visually impared, and instead using content shared by everyone, I'd be keen to hear it.

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