Icons are visual artifacts to communicate, guide and inform the user. They can help users find their way through an interface, make the meaning of buttons clearer, and prepare users for what is happening next. Icons work at their best when they're consistent, familiar and recognizable to the user.
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You should adjust the alternative text (the text inside the SPAN element) to suit the meaning and usability of your scenario. If you are using it in a button which has the button's action as visible text, you don't need to duplicate the text inside the icon too. However if you are creating an icon-only control, you should include the alternative text.
Icons are simply SPAN elements with an image or icon font applied. Text inside the span is hidden and can be used as assistive/alternative text.
Vector icon sizes:
Simple 'wait' spinner
You're waiting. The user's waiting. Use the spinner