Accessibility Guide: Images and Graphs

Pictures can add texture and clarification to your presentations; however, they are inaccessible to those who are visually impaired. Fully explain, using text, information contained in graphics and images. For more information on presenting images and graphs, see Accessibilty Guide Presentation Notes page.

In electronic format, screen readers will recognize alternative text (also known as "alt text") if the alt text is there. This communicates to the listener contents of an image. This requires describing each picture in the document and making this part of the electronic document.

Alternative Text

All major word processors have the capacity to add an “alternative description” also known as "alternative text" or "alt text" to communicate the contents of an image or table.

Well-written alternative text can replace graphs or pictures if you need to convert your document to plain text format. (This will need to be done manually, as it is not an automatic process).

What to Say in Alternative Text:

When writing alternative text ask yourself:

"What does the image or graph convey?"

Pictures:

For pictures, identify the main content or message of the picture. If the image is of a person, identify who the person is. If the task they are performing is important, identify that. If the person is using a wheelchair and that is important to the understanding, identify that. Example:

"Man in a wheelchair working at computer."

Graphs:

Summarize the graph. For example, if it’s a pie chart, write out what each piece of the pie denotes and the percentage. In some cases, it may be okay to write out the message of the graph. Example:

“Graph shows increase in production by 100 units from 2001 through 2008.”

How to Add Alternative Text to a Document:

Word 2010:

  • Right click on picture > Format Picture
  • Alt Text in the left hand menu and add alternative text in the "Description" box

PowerPoint 2010:

  • Right click on picture > Format Picture
  • Alt Text in the left hand menu and add alternative text in the "Description" box

Excel:

  • Right click on picture > Format Picture.
  • Alt Text in the left hand menu and add alternative text in the "Description" box

Checklist:

  • All images have alternative text
  • All graphs have alternative text
  • Alternative text is clear and conveys the important information of the image or graph

Related Accessibility Guide Pages

Documents

Power Point

Presentation Notes

Word Documents

References / More information:

Accessible Spreadsheets and Presentational Documents

Accessible Word Processor Documents

General Considerations about Web-based Communications

Alt text:

Creating Effective Alternative Text Web AIM

 

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