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Alternative text

What to do

Alt text should be used to specify short descriptions of images. The use of "picture", "image 1", or "chart.jpg" are not sufficient descriptions. Where possible, text should be used to convey information instead of images. However, when an image contains words, the alt text should include those words.

Why it matters

Assistive technologies can provide the same meaning of image content to people with visual impairments as sighted users.

Examples

Better alternative text

image example

Alternative text for search button: "Search the site"

Poor alternative text

image example

Alternative text for search button: "Magnifying glass"

Long description

What to do

A long description providing the details of more complex images, like charts, should be provided near the image.

Why it matters

A long description provides the same meaning of complex image content to users of assistive technologies.

Examples

Better long description

chart image example

Alternative text for chart: "Speed performance over time. Details in text following chart."

Text immediately below the chart: "Speed increased from 0 to 45 m/s between 0 and 6 seconds."

Poor long description

chart image example

Alternative text for chart: "Line graph"

No descriptive text immediately below the chart.

Decorative images

What to do

Empty alt text should be used for decorative images (i.e. a decorative border) so they are ignored by assistive technologies.

Why it matters

Providing for assistive technologies to ignore image content that does not supply meaning or information streamlines the processed content to just what is necessary.

Examples

Better decorative image

Alternative text for decorative image is empty.

Poor decorative image

Alternative text for decorative image: "Flourish"


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