Interesting discussion on longdesc in Firefox's Bugzilla database. 

+Ian Hickson made an interesting claim:

"longdesc="" doesn't actually help well-designed accessible sites (since those wouldn't rely on images to convey content). It doesn't help poorly-designed accessible sites (since they wouldn't bother to write a longdesc="" page)"

I don't want to respond to the 'poorly designed site', but I beg to differ on any other site's use of images. 

Images have long been used to compel, inform, instruct, inspire, and instigate. "A picture is worth a thousand words", is no empty cliché. 

The use of just the right image is a powerful tool. An unfortunate consequence, though, is there is part of the audience that hears silence where others hear a roar. 

Providing a long, detailed, and relevant description of the image isn't a complete substitute, but something is better than nothing. 

Embedding the text conveying this information about the image directly in the page just undermines the image for those who can see it. It's as if we're trying to tell them what to experience from the image, when they expect to be able to form the perceptions for themselves. 

That's why a solid technique that allows us to provide the complicated textual description that conveys the intent of the image to those who can't see the image for themselves is vital. It may only be a whisper, as compared to a roar, but even a whisper is better than silence. 

Anyone who doesn't understand the power of an image should not be the one making a decision about providing an alternative.
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