5-6.1 Rationale

Images can represent concepts or user interface elements within a software application (e.g., file folder, slider bar, or hourglass). Consistent use of images is critical for users to understand their meaning. The user–visible textual information (i.e., “ToolTips,” alternative text) presented with images must also be consistent throughout the software application (i.e., “file folder” icon must have the same meaning and label throughout to indicate a function such as “open file”).

Changing an image to identify status or events can be confusing to users and to assistive technology. When such changes occur, software applications must provide textual information about the change, using program code and user–visible text. The techniques in Section 5-5, User Interface and Programmatic Elements, describe ways to provide this textual information.