Accessibility: What is alt text?

March 23, 2021

Alternative text (alt text) is a concise description of a visual element on a digital medium. Alt text is read aloud by accessibility apps, can be displayed in place of or in addition to images on a web page, and is discoverable by search engines. Closed captioning of a video is essentially a form of alt text. Well composed alt text conveys the meaning and context of the item without unnecessary or redundant phrasing. For example, the alt text for an embedded image on a Canvas Page or Word document should not include the phrase “This is an image of …” and should not repeat a caption that is already provided in the main body of text. Similarly, alt text is not needed for elements that are purely decorative, such as page dividers or branding graphics. One way to check the soundness of alt text is to read the description aloud within the context of the document, video, or web page to see if it adds meaning and clarity.

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Contact Details:

Name: Karla Embleton
Phone: 515-294-9198
Department: College of Human Sciences Administration