Alt text, short for alternative text, is a small piece of text intended to describe an image, photograph, chart or any other picture on a website. Here are the steps to crafting fabulous alt-texts! Alt text gives the user the most important information while image descriptions provide further detail. Icons: alt text for icons should be the equivalent to the information intended by the icon, such as “Download PDF” or “Visit our Facebook Page”, Images as Links: If the image is being used to link to another page, the alt text should describe what will happen when the image is clicked (rather than what it looks like). CSS text styling by HUIT - Web, UX and Digital Accessibility Services (@hwpdas) We wouldn't want a screen reader announcing, "Welcome to the Harvard University logo"! Screen readers will read the alt text out loud, as well as image descriptions, depending on what settings the user has enabled. It never hurts to double check alt text and make sure that both the computer and humans are in agreement as to what is in the picture. In visual browsers such as Firefox, the ALT text is displayed whe… Alt text and captions are similar in many ways. Icons: alt text for icons should be the equivalent to the information intended by the icon, such as “Download PDF” or “Visit our Facebook Page” Images as Links: If the image is being used to link to another page, the alt text should describe what will happen when the image is clicked (rather than what it looks like). alt and title attributes of an image are commonly referred to as alt tag User agents should do their best to scale an object or image to match. If the image is a photograph, the alternate text should describe the photograph. But why not setting the aria-label on the a element, then we can still have the image description on the img 's alt ? Some people understand complex information best when it's presented visually, such as as a chart or diagram, while others find that reading the information suits them better. Describe what the image actually shows. For example: For example, images that are fancy rendered text typically ("New!" Neutral coverage came in at 26%, while a minority of sources were determined to be anti-war. It’s purely descriptive. is to describe images to visitors who are unable to see them. The simple answer is: if you created the image, you should write the alt text. Alt text tells people what is in an image, such as text or basic essential details. Skip to section navigation. When composing image descriptions, it may seem difficult to decide what to include. But, also keep it short–125 characters or less is a good guideline. While this is an awesome feature, it isn’t always the most accurate. Analysis of media coverage during the Iraq war was by no means universally objective. BEST PRACTICE: Remember, ALT text is needed for those that may not be able to see an image; you should not just use the file name – it needs to describe what the image is. In a WYSIWYG editor, it is possible to upload an image of some text (let's say, "delicious pancakes") and insert it into the page with alternative text that matches the text exactly: One disadvantage here is that screen readers will, in some contexts, read the alternative text with "graphic" appended, and you might not want the user to know that the text is really an image. Alternative (Alt) Text is meant to convey the “why” of the image as it relates to the content of a document or webpage. In most cases, an image will only have a function if it is contained within a link (or is an image map hotspot or a button). on CodePen. It is read aloud to users by screen reader software, and it is indexed by search engines. Both should be written with the user in mind but alt text is the main source of information about what’s in the image. All of the guidelines of WCAG and some related articles suggest to always set the alt attribute on the img elements, if the image links to other page, alt should be the place the image leads to. Alt Text (also known as alternative text or alt attribute) is Harvard Stadium with two lone runners bounding up the steps. Some people with reading difficulties or visual impairments need to customize the display of text to make it easier to read. When text is presented as an image of text, that limits their ability to change the appearance of that text. I… However, alt text is typically “behind the scenes,” whereas captions are visible to anyone accessing the page. The same image can have quite different alt text depending on its context. Here’s an example of an image we used in a recent Yola blog post: This is the alt text we used for this image: As you can see the alt text describes what this image is. The field is usually named “Alt-text”, “Alternative text” or “Alt”, but in some interfaces it’s called “Image description” or something similar. Decorative images that have nothing to do with the website content, such as shapes or patterns, do not need alt text or image descriptions, and neither do blank images. Behind the scenes, the text will be styled using web fonts and CSS properties such as background, text-shadow and color. Alternate Text Suggestions. The alt text only appears in the source code of your website, as a line of HTML code also known as the alt attribute. In this case, the alternative text should say something like "Harvard University logo.". Let's look at some examples of appropriate alternative text, using the same Harvard University logo in different contexts. Twitter users can add alt text by enabling these settings here. If you’re a developer and you’re implementing UI with images based on something created by a content creator or a designer, you should NOT be responsible for writing the alt text – alt text should have been written by the time it gets to you. Images with complex information: If the image is a chart, diagram, or illustration, consider how to convey the information contained in the image using both the alt-text and the adjacent page text. And of course, alt text should be added when creating content Microsoft Office- read more about adding alt text in Microsoft Word here, adding alt text in PowerPoint presentations here, and creating screen reader-friendly presentations in Microsoft Sway here. Determining if the image presents content and what that content is can be much more difficult. With these tips, users can create alt text and image descriptions that help people with vision impairments and make their content more inclusive and accessible. If you have any questions about ALT text or any other content issue that you think might make a … When writing alt text, consider what details the author thought was most important. Describe the function of the image, especially if the image is a link. For example, automatic alt text once interpreted a picture of my brother standing outside as being a picture of a car. There are three main reasons why you should be using alt text. After placing the logo inside a link pointing to the home page, appropriate alternative text might be "Harvard University home page" or similar. An image description gives more details than alt text and allows someone to learn more about what is in an image that goes beyond alt text. 175 North Beacon Street This includes for people with reading difficulties. Read on to learn more about how to create alt text and image descriptions. Image titles and alt texts are both attributes in an image tag that describe the content of that image. Image descriptions can be longer, but I recommend keeping them the length of a tweet, or about 280 characters. If you do this, you'll need to provide that same text as the image’s text alternative so that screen-reader users can access the text. The alt attribute provides alternative information for an image if a user for some reason cannot view it (because of slow connection, an error … Think of the alt tag as the text that a visually impaired person might see or what would display should a visitor have images turned off in the browser. “Search the Card Catalog" is much more useful than "Photo of a collection of books and other reading materials scattered on a library table". Understanding what makes good alt text is subtle and important. In this case, we should focus on writing alternative text that stands in for the visible text within the logo, without adding any extraneous information—that is, you’d want the alternative text to just say "Harvard University". in a fancy font with shading) have an alt text of just the text and don't describe the rendering; an image of a VCR-style play button is typically "play" instead of "right pointing triangle", and images of purely cosmetic images typically have empty alt text. Put simply, alt text (also referred to as alternative text or alt tags) are used to describe the images on your web page. Leave alt text blank if the image is purely decorative, It's not necessary to add text in the Title field.Â. Definition and Usage The required alt attribute specifies an alternate text for an image, if the image cannot be displayed. It might sound obvious, but an alt-text should describe the image. The alternative text for the graph (supplied through its alt attribute, which you can add when you upload a graphic using a web editor) would be too long if it were to describe everything in the graph, so it just describes the graph's purpose. When the content presented in an image is conveyed elsewhere, such as in a caption, the image may also be given empty alt text. If the image requires a lengthier description, it is better to describe the image in the content and provide a short alt text. You can experiment with CSS text styling in this code editor, using the above rules as a starting point. You also need to think about the information that the graphic conveys, such as the categories of data being shown, trends, and maximum and minimum values. According to the most recent statistics available to us, we see that hydro-electric power is the most prevalent source at slightly over one third (36%), followed closely by coal (33%), then nuclear (19%), and gas at 10%. Write the text as text in the editor and let the publishing system apply styling. But for complex graphics, it's not enough to provide a screen reader user with only short alternative text, such as "population graph." Skip to content For example, if the image below of King Henry VIII of England were used in an article about the history of the Royal family of … A screen reader would identify that the image is also a link and say, "Harvard University homepage, link.". Harvard Stadium with cracked concrete pillars. If the image is wrapped in a link the alt text should describe the target of the link. Alt text can and should be used in a variety of settings. If the image contains meaningful text, the alternate text should contain that text. See an example of an accessible infographic from WebAIM. Completing the Romanian picture, we find that other energy sources make up the remaining 2%.”. Only 3% of American sources fell into that category. Alternative text, or “alt text” describes the content of images, graphs and charts. People differ in the way that they can (or like to) consume information, especially in educational contexts. Here are features that can be included in image descriptions- write about these when applicable: Likewise, there are some things that should be left out of image descriptions. This includes screen readers People with vision impairments such as low vision and blindness may use screen readers in order to access the internet, or just have trouble distinguishing images. However, any time an image is the only content within a link, the image MUST be given alternative text that presents the function of that link. In this case, we would use alternative text that describes the action of the link. Consult the content editor slides at the top of the page for more examples.Some other best practices include: 1. These include: I talk about some of these details in my post on texting etiquette and low vision here. If someone went on your website or profile with their eyes closed, would they still be able to find their way around? Alt text should clearly describe the beginning point, progress, and conclusion of flow charts. For example an image with a caption below it does not need alt text that matches the caption, leave the alt text blank to avoid redundancy. Bloggers and webmasters can add alt text to images on their websites. For example, the alt text for an image of a question mark that links to a help page should be “Contact Support” rather than “question mark.” Images with complex information: If the image is a chart… Here, we find an interesting picture, where electricity is provided by diverse energy sources, with no single energy source constituting a clear majority. When the object is an image, it is scaled. It also displays on the page if the image fails to load, as in this example of a missing image. Let’s create the perfect alt-text! But while accessibility for images often focuses on providing a text alternative for screen-reader users, we can also look at the issue from the other way around—providing a graphic alternative for text to make the underlying information or concept easier to understand. This text helps screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers and allows search engines to better crawl and rank your website. It should be added to every image that conveys meaning in instructional and communications materials including Moodle sites, word processing documents, and slide presentations. Best alt text: alt="A stack of pancakes on a plate with banana, walnuts and honey"> Alt text, since it’s what appears if the image doesn’t display, should be as descriptive as possible. gives more details than alt text and allows someone to learn more about what is in an image that goes beyond alt text The accessibility of the web in general would increase dramatically if alternate attribute were provided and implemented correctly. Alt text can be quite useful and should be incorporated into your SEO efforts for a number of reasons. It should be brief: less than 250 characters. See the Pen A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there’s no reason to write them all out and leave the user waiting for the descriptions to end. If you use an online content editor to write content, the styling will happen automatically. If you didn’t create the image but you are the first to include it in a wireframe or mockup or prototype, you should write the alt text. Use proper spelling, capitalization, spacing, and grammar too- if someone is pinning the image to Pinterest, the alt text is what will display as the image description. All the correct information is there, but it’s hidden among a lot of unnecessary verbosity. Example 2: The purpose of this image is … Alt text, or “alternative text” as the long-form name suggests, is a The ALT text adds a text description to an image on a Web page, and should be used for all images, graphical bullets, and graphical horizontal rules. If an image fails to load, alt text will display in its place. Alt text and image descriptions can provide essential information such as text, links, and image details. The first step when determining appropriate alternative text for an image is to decide if the image presents content and if the image has a function. In rare occasions, an image of text might be used inline as a substitute for text. It should convey the purpose of the image, not describe the image. If you don’t, the screen reader reads the title of the image. Listening to a web page with a screen reader takes a lot longer than traditional methods, so don’t make the surfing experience painful for screen reader users with bloated and unnecessary ALT text. Don’t include “image of” or “photo of”. In addition, text that’s inside an image isn’t translatable into different languages, selectable for copy/paste, or resizable without degrading its quality. Alternative text for informative images needs to provide the same information as the image. And by placing this paragraph first, we make sure screen reader users can still get the information they need. For example, the alt text for an image of a question mark that links to a help page should be “Contact Support” rather than “question mark.”. Describe the image. For instance, we might want to write "Welcome to Harvard University" using the logo instead of the words "Harvard University." It’s better to leave the ALT tag blank (ALT=””) then to enter a text description that’s not useful or is redundant. If an image has text in it, make sure to write out the image text verbatim as alt text. There does not need to be a high level of detail in the description. The alt text for the image should still describe the general content of the image. Always provide alt text for images that are links. Remember, ALT text should describe the content of the image and nothing more. I still recommend typing “null” as alt text for decorative images as opposed to leaving it blank. ALT text is accessed by screen reader users to provide them with a text equivalent of images. Some people might prefer information provided in text, or video, or audio; and their accessibility needs can also influence their preferences. Keep it short and descriptive, like a tweet. The developer’s responsibility is to make sure the alt text is implement… All images are required to have an alternative text attribute. Automatic alt text is being integrated into different websites. To learn more about creating high-resolution images, read my post on high-resolution images here. If the image has communicative content (either says something or is illustrating something that has relevance to the content on the page) the alt text should describe the content either by repeating the text in the image or describing its content. Alt text is also useful for images with decorative text that may be difficult to see, like a signature or logo. Speaking of Twitter, read my post on low vision Twitter accounts to follow here, and follow me on Twitter @veron4ica here. Each decorative image should have an alternative text attribute with an empty string (alt=""). ALT tags are often misused, mostly people overuse them. Decorative images should be given empty or null alt text. So if you have 4 images of the same camera strap on the page, the alt text could be: There’s all sorts of … Alt text, also known as alternative text or alt tag, is a short description of the image that displays when a user can’t access the image. Both provide a description of the image and context of how the image fits in with the rest of the content. As more and more people develop vision impairments, they turn to assistive technology in order to access content- read more about this in my World Sight Day 2017 post here. For people who use screen readers, a good text equivalent of the information that’s presented graphically is essential for their understanding. In keeping with other Internet guidelines, the term " alt text" (in a code font) is used here to refer to the text supplied for the image alt parameter and which generates text for the HTML alt attribute; the term "alternative text" refers to the text equivalent for an image, regardless of where that text resides. According to W3C Accessibility Guidelines, for code to be considered W3C-valid, it is important to include both image alt text and image title text in the image for important images … So wherever possible, use text along with CSS to apply styling (such as color, typeface, or size). What is alt text? Copyright © 2021 The President and Fellows of Harvard College, Accessibility: Image Alt text best practices (Siteimprove), Understanding SC 1.1.1—Non-text Content (WAI), Example of an accessible infographic (WebAIM), Guidelines for writing alt text on social media, experiment with CSS text styling in this code editor, ✎ Technique: Using diagrams to illustrate text, Use images and media to enhance understanding ✎, Use images and media to enhance understanding, Provide captions and descriptions of video, Digital Accessibility for Content Creators. Do also be sure also to keep ALT text as short and succinct as possible. In fact, it's clear that coverage was overall pro-war with American news sources being slightly more pro-war than sources from outside the US. For example, alt text tells someone that there's a puddle on the floor, and image description tells someone that the puddle on the floor is in the middle of the floor and it's orange juice. In this example, we're going to provide a text alternative for a graph, using HTML to give an alt attribute to the graph and some visible text to provide additional information. But if the logo were provided as an example of logo design, we might want to go further and opt for something like "Harvard University logo, featuring black, serif text and a red shield emblem", as in this example: It's a web-design convention to use a logo graphic as a link back to a site's home page. Only in extreme circumstances, such as when a logo is used, should you provide an image of text rather than text. Search engines also index alt text information and consider it a factor when determining search engine ratings. The most appropriate alternative text for an image depends very much on the context of the image in question. If the content that the image conveys is presented within text in the surrounding context of the image, then an empty alt attribute may suffice. By providing a doughnut chart to capture the salient points, we can be more inclusive of those who learn better visually and assist the understanding of everyone: Seeing the percentages visually, as segments, makes the proportions easier to compare. If the image is a light blue button with rounded edges and dark red text with the word "Submit," the alt text should be simply: alt="submit" Don't worry about describing the non-essential visual aspects of the button's appearance. Imagine that some prose has been provided to describe—in this case—the division of energy sources for Romania’s electricity production: “When we consider energy consumption trends farther east in Europe, however, we might consider the Carpathian nation of Romania as an example. Also called "alt tags" and "alt descriptions," alt text is the written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load on a user's screen. Alt tags should accurately describe an image so Google can determine what the image on your website is depicting. There are times where using alt text or image descriptions is pointless. Watertown, MA 02472, FAQAboutContact Perkins eLearningVisit Perkins.org, Sign up for email updates Subscribe Follow Us, low vision Twitter accounts to follow here, adding alt text in PowerPoint presentations here, creating screen reader-friendly presentations in Microsoft Sway here, Clothes (if they are an important detail), Descriptions of colors- no need to describe what red looks like, Obvious details such as someone having two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, Details that are not the focus of the picture. For simple graphics, providing a succinct, informative text alternative is usually fine. By adding alt text and image descriptions, barriers are lifted and more people can access your content. Image alt text Do all linked images meaningfully describe their action rather than their appearance. If you feel that you need text that deviates from the style, formatting options provided by online content editors should allow you to update the style for that text. 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