Earlier last month, I was approached by a fellow author with the question, “How can I educate the authors I work with concerning accessible tech and how to make their writing available for readers who are blind, visually impaired, or who have some other print disability?”
After giving this some thought, I decided the first course of action would be to explain just what accessible tech is.
If you missed that introduction, please read:
The Print Barrier by author and multimedia specialist Ann Chiappetta #Accessibility #AssistiveTechnology
Once you’ve done that, I invite you to read this informative post by Casey Mathews of Web Friendly Help.
The Importance of Alt Text for Screen Reader Users: A Guide to Best Practices and Accessibility
In the digital age, creating accessible content is more important than ever. One critical aspect of web accessibility is the use of alt text for images, which ensures that screen reader users can access and understand visual content. This blog post will explore the importance of alt text, discuss best practices based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and provide instructions on how to add alt text using both the mouse and keyboard in popular applications.
The Importance of Alt Text
Alternative text, or “alt text,” is a brief description of an image that is provided as an attribute within an HTML image tag on a website. It is essential for several reasons:
1. Accessibility: Screen readers rely on alt text to convey the meaning and purpose of images to users who are visually impaired or blind. Without alt text, these users miss out on essential information.
2. SEO: Search engines use alt text to understand the context and content of images, which can improve a website’s ranking in search results.
3. Usability: In cases where images fail to load or are blocked, alt text ensures that users can still understand the content.
Alt Text Guidelines for Descriptions
According to WCAG guidelines, good alt text should be:
1. Accurate: Provide an accurate description of the image’s content and function.
2. Concise: Keep the description brief, usually under 125 characters.
3. Contextual: Consider the context in which the image appears and tailor the alt text accordingly.
Image: A woman in a wheelchair waving at the camera.
Bad Alt Text: “Woman”
Good Alt Text: “Woman in a wheelchair smiling and waving at the camera”
Image: A pie chart showing the percentage of renewable energy sources used in a country.
Bad Alt Text: “Pie chart”
Good Alt Text: “Pie chart illustrating the proportion of renewable energy sources, with solar energy being the highest at 40%”
Image: A landscape photo of a mountain range.
Bad Alt Text: “Mountains”
Good Alt Text: “Scenic landscape of the Rocky Mountains with a blue sky and a forest in the foreground”
Adding Alt Text in some Popular Applications
Now, let’s look at adding alt text using the mouse and keyboard in popular applications:
1. Right-click on the image.
2. Select “Edit Alt Text” from the context menu.
3. Enter a descriptive alt text in the Alt Text pane.
4. Close the pane by clicking the “Close (X)” button.
1. move to the image and select it with CTRL+Shift+Left or Right arrow keys.
2. Press the “Alt” key along with the “F10” key.
3. Type a descriptive alt text in the Alt Text pane.
4. Close the pane by pressing the “Escape” key.
1. Click on the image to select it.
2. Right click the image then click on, “Alt text Ctrl+Alt+Y”
3. Enter a title and description for the image in the corresponding fields.
4. Click “OK” to save the alt text.
- Navigate to the image
- Press “Ctrl” + “Alt” + “Y” (Windows) or “Cmd” + “Option” + “Y” (Mac) to open the Alt Text dialog box.
- Type a title and description for the image in the corresponding fields.
- Press “Enter” or “Return” to save the alt text.
1. Click on the image within the post or page editor.
2. In the right sidebar, locate the “Alt Text” field under the “Image settings” section.
3. Enter a descriptive alt text.
4. Click “Update” to save changes to the post or page.
1. Navigate to the image within the post or page editor using the “Tab” key.
2. Press Alt+Shift+M.
3. Use the “Tab” key to navigate to the “Alt Text” field in the right sidebar.
4. Type a descriptive alt text.
5. Press “Escape” to deselect the image and return to the main editor area.
6. Tab to the Update button to save the post or page.
Alt text is crucial for ensuring that screen reader users have equal access to the information and context provided by images on websites and documents. By following the best practices based on the WCAG and W3C guidelines, you can create more inclusive and accessible content for all users, regardless of their visual abilities.
Remember to keep your alt text accurate, concise, and contextual to provide the most helpful information for screen reader users. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the mouse and keyboard shortcuts for adding alt text in popular applications like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and WordPress to streamline your workflow and ensure your images are always accessible.
By prioritizing web accessibility, you not only improve the user experience for those with disabilities but also contribute to a more inclusive and equitable digital landscape.
Casey Mathews is the founder of WebFriendlyHelp.com, a company designed to help people get the most out of their technology. He has worked in the Access Technology field since the mid 1990’s. He holds an MCP certification (Microsoft Certified Professional) as well as a BS in Information Technology from the University of Phoenix. He has also received the Florida division of Blind Services Access Technology endorsement. Casey has worked in various Florida Organizations that serve the blindness/low-vision community where he has introduced new software and training/support ideas from Serotek, the NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access) screen reader, and of course apple iDevices. Casey was also instrumental in the founding of a Guide Dogs for the Blind technology chapter in 2011. Casey enjoys testing new technology and software and is highly committed to remaining informed of developments in technology.
The idea behind my personalized access technology solution is that people have different needs and learning styles. Some want to learn as much as possible so they can be ready for anything. If that’s you, great! However, just as important is the next person who may simply want the minimum to get the job done, then call later when something else crops up. We all have different limits, and sometimes less is more. Some learn by example, some learn better by taking a few pointers and trying to figure things out for themselves, and some just want it fixed so they can go on about their day. You may be:
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Here I will briefly list some additional examples that might be of interest.
• APIs: If you are a developer, you know what these are. I do not code, but I can find what you need to code faster!
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Your audio: enhanced, cleaned, and refined to the best quality possible
AT Web Friendly Help, audio editing involves modifying and removing the pieces of the audio recording that you don’t want or need. Whenever you record, you will have dead air or gaps in audio that are too long, coughs, ums, background noises, and so on. These can be removed for you. The result is that recordings will sound much more professional and confident.
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The following partial list will help show you what you get with the audio subscription service.
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Example Audio Projects
• Audio interviews
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• Sermon recordings
I hope that brief list gives you a bit more of an idea of what I can do to help you. Let me know what you need when we chat.
Payment can be made via PayPal, or credit/debit card. Payments are made on a subscription basis such as monthly, quarterly, or annually.
Contact me by phone at: 567-234-0078 or email at: Help@WebFriendlyHelp.com
Visit my website: https://webfriendlyhelp.com
Abbie Johnson TaylorApril 2, 2023
If you use the WordPress block editor, you can easily insert alt text when adding images from your media library by navigating to the alt text field and typing or pasting your description there.
Patty FletcherApril 2, 2023
I appreciate the info.
Robbie CheadleApril 3, 2023
Hi Patty, I didn’t find an alt text tab and the one I found inserted the text over the picture. I shall have to Google it as it might be my WordPress settings.
Thanks for this useful and informative post. Sharing.
Patty FletcherApril 3, 2023
Hi Robbie, email Dawn and Colleen of Two Pentacles Publishing at TwoPentacles.com
Also, see Abbie’s comment on this post. She had something to say about the placing of alt text while using the WordPress site, however, Abbie and most of those I work with do not use the block editor.
Two Pentacles can assist you though. They do all my work.
Mostly though, I put the pics with alt text straight into my documents there-for all I have to do is put them straight into my text and the rest is done.