Alternate (alt) Text

Video Tutorial 1 (real life with narration)

Video Tutorial 2 (animation without narration)

WCAG 1.1.1

alternate textLet’s make this year the Year of Alt Text!  Our goal is to create widespread awareness about the need to label images so that users who use screen readers can obtain appropriate information from any kind of document.  

Enter descriptions that are appropriate, succinct, and are mindful of the context.  Think from the user’s perspective… if you were using a screen reader, what information do you think you would need to understand the purpose or value of the image in that context?  No need to include a description if the image is decorative. Depending on the application you may be using, the process may differ.

If you are using a Content Management System like Blackboard, Drupal, or WordPress, these have fields in the upload menus that allow you to easily enter alternate text for images. Whenever you insert an image in one of these, make sure to enter a description in the field provided for that purpose.

"Hard coding" a website, remember to include the <alt = "alternate text"> tag whenever necessary.

Sending an email from Outlook or editing a document in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel.  Insert the image, right click, select “Format Picture”, go to “Layout and Properties” (third item on menu), and enter your title and description.

Finally, the Diagram Center, provides guidelines for image description as well as an open-source web based image description training tool, Poet.  

The topic of how much is too much is frequently discussed in the accessibility community. Different screen readers may read things differently so our recommendation is to include a succinct title or description.  If both are used, the title should be short and the description field used to provide in-depth information when necessary.

Inside Iowa State recently published an article about alt text.