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Web Accessibility Policy of the State of Maine

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Implementation Guidelines

5. Image Maps

5.1 - Provide alternate text for each area in client-side image maps.

What:
Image maps are images divided into multiple "areas," with each area having its own hypertext link.

Why:
Just as images must have alternate text, each area of an image map must also have appropriate alternate text for use when the image is not displayed.

How:
Use alternate text that indicates the function or destination of the link for each area of a client-side image map. The image itself should have alternate text that indicates the overall function of the image map.

Ref: WCAG 1.1; 508 a

5.2 - Avoid using server-side image maps.

What:
While client-side image maps and server-side image maps look and operate similarly, they are technically very different. Because of the way server-side image maps work, all information about the image and links is stored at the web server and is not available to the user's web browser or assistive technology.

Why:
Screen readers cannot identify or read the separate areas or links within server-side image maps.

How:
Whenever possible, use client-side image maps instead of server-side image maps. If server-side image maps must be used, provide a set of text links that duplicate all the functions/destinations included in the image map.

Ref: WCAG 1.2, 9.1; 508 e, f