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Make your content accessible with alt text for images

An illustration of alt text for images on websites, showing three people editing the components of the webpage.

An illustration of alt text for images on websites, showing three people editing the components of the webpage.

Accessible content is any form of content that can be read, heard, or interacted with by anyone, regardless of impairments or disabilities. It is important because it ensures that content is fully inclusive and can be consumed by everyone. One of the most common ways for publishers to make their content accessible is by adding alt text and long descriptions for images.

Alternative text, or “alt text”, is a brief written description of an image that helps screen-reading tools describe the image to users. Alt text is also used in place of an image on a webpage if it fails to load on a user’s screen. It also has the added benefit of allowing search engines to better parse and rank a website in search results.

In cases where complex images are used, a more descriptive text called a “long description” is needed to better describe the content in the image. Complex images typically tend to contain information that cannot be conveyed in a short paragraph or phrase. Some examples of complex images are: 

  • Graphs and charts, including flowcharts, workflows, and hierarchical charts
  • Diagrams and illustrations that are crucial to the understanding of the text in the content
  • Maps depicting geographical locations or information like weather systems

Making images accessible with alt text and long descriptions benefits a variety of users, including those with vision and cognitive impairments, a slow connection, or those who are unable to focus on a screen because they are engaged in an activity like driving.

At Kriyadocs, we support content accessibility in a variety of ways, including alt text and long description (ATLD) services for book and journal publishers. Our ATLD writing process is depicted by the following diagram:

A flowchart depicting the six-step alt text and long description process in Kriyadocs.

A flowchart depicting the six-step alt text and long description process in Kriyadocs.

Below are a few best practices we follow to ensure that the alt text and long descriptions for images are of the best quality:

  • Include keywords wherever possible; this allows those using screen readers to better assess the purpose/function of the non-text element.
  • Use vivid, descriptive language and avoid relying on visual cues like colors while describing an image.
  • Maintain objectivity and accuracy while writing alt text and long descriptions.
  • Make use of exact data whenever possible. If exact data points are not available, highlight this through the use of terms like “approximately,” “about,” or “estimated.”

We create alt text and long descriptions for a variety of images, including logos, photos, unnumbered and numbered figures, and more. Below are a few samples for different types of images:

Logos

Alt text: Logo of Google.

Alt text: Logo of Corwin, A SAGE Publishing Company.

Photos

Alt text: Professional portrait of Debra Ruh.

Online resources icon

Alt text: A box with the words online resources in it and an arrow on the right pointing to it. Text beside it reads, This online resource can be found in Appendix A and is available for download at resources.corwin.com/ClassroomReadyMath/2–3.

Unnumbered images

Alt text: An illustration of an equilateral triangle.

Numbered figures

Alt text: This diagram shows the movement of the ethnographic process from start to finish, over the course of time.

Long description: A horizontal arrow that points from left to right at the base of this figure is labeled time. Two perpendicular lines are seen on both sides of this arrow, intersecting it. The one on the left is labeled start and that on the right is labeled end. The point of intersection between the start line and the time arrow as well as a point at the top end of the start arrow where another line intersects it are circled. The midpoint of the end line is also circled. Two lines join each of the points on the start line to the midpoint on the end line. The line on top is labeled interview (transcriptions), and the line below is labeled observation (journal). The text to the left of the start line reads, the ethnographic process. A dashed arrow that starts to the left of the start line, as it moves upward past the start line, toward the interview line and then moves downward towards the observation line and back up again towards the interview line. It undulates and ends below the midpoint on the end line. The text to the right of the midpoint reads: Ethnography: the best approximation of native or internal view.

To get started on your accessibility journey or for more information about our services for book and journal publishers, write to us at hello@kriyadocs.com.

Photo of Debra Ruh by Emily Ha – Ticket:2017031110008014, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58425848

Cover image courtesy: Disability vector created by vectorjuice – www.freepik.com

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