Images

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Overview

All images must have descriptive, concise alt text unless they are purely decorative and provide no relevant visual information. Aim to keep your descriptions short – two sentences maximum.

What and why: The content of informative images should be communicated to users with visual impairments. Alt text will be read aloud by screen readers and presented by Braille displays.

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Guidance for informative images

  • Do not use ‘image of’ or ‘picture of’ in the alt text.
  • Avoid assuming race or gender of image subjects.
  • Do not stuff keywords into alt text for search engine optimisation (SEO) benefit.
  • The same image may need different alt text in different contexts. Online, you may need to create different copies of the image to do this.
  • Ask yourself whether your alt text could effectively communicate image content to someone listening on a phone call.

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Guidance for decorative images

Leave the alt text field empty. This will mean the image is ignored by assistive technology.

If you’re using Blackboard Ally, select ‘Indicate image is decorative’ button.

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Images within documents uploaded to Minerva

Alt text should be immediately followed by this standardised statement: “Please contact your module leader if you cannot visually access the information in this picture.”


Simple images containing text

Avoid using images that contain text. If the text is short and of value, communicate it in the alt text.

Be aware that text in an image needs to meet colour contrast standards so it stands out enough from the background for all users.

It’s acceptable to use screenshot images that include text, but ensure that the alt text of the screenshot describes what you’re intending for people to learn from the image. Text in screenshots likely doesn’t need to meet colour contrast standards.

What and why: Text in images cannot reliably be interpreted by assistive technology so is effectively invisible to people who use those technologies. Also, text that’s part of an image often becomes pixelated when enlarged so will become challenging to read for people who need to magnify or zoom into pages.

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Logos

Reflect the text in the logo in the alt text. You may also want to state it’s a logo. For example, ‘University of Leeds logo’.

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Incidental text in images

The information on surfaces, such as signs or name tags, displayed in images may need to be communicated in the alt text depending on the context and surrounding information on the page.

If you’re intending for a person to read the text on the surface, include it in the alt text.

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Other image types

Complex images (eg infographics, illustrations, charts and graphs)

Images such as infographics, illustrations, charts and graphs may need both alt text and a longer description in nearby text. Read our guidance on complex images for more information.

Handwritten notes

Where possible, handwritten notes should be converted into electronic text (not scanned as an image), which will make them accessible to people using screen readers and potentially enhance readability for everyone.

This can be achieved in different ways, for example automatically using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software, manually typed, or by audio-narrating the content and auto-captioning the resulting recording.

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Image captions

Note that alt text works alongside, but differently to, image captions. Our advice on image captions helps you know when and how to use them.

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Icons and linked images

Icons and linked images generally need descriptive alt text. However, images that are part of a text link need a different approach. Our icons and linked images guidance can help.

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More on alt text

Image accessibility can be complex. Material.io’s advice on writing alt text and W3.org’s guidance on accessible images go into great detail using examples if you’d like more direction.

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How to

Alt text for Jadu users

How to add/adjust alt text in Jadu

  1. Access the Image Library on the Jadu toolbar using the Insert Image icon and select the ‘Edit’ button.
  2. Update the ‘Alternative text’ field and select the ‘Save And Use’ button.

Jadu Continuum Adding Alternative Text (Alt Text) using the WordPress Media Library image editor.

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Alt text for WordPress users

How to add/adjust alt text in WordPress

You can adjust alt text in two ways in WordPress:

  1. Select the image in the page editor and add the description into the ‘Alt Text (Alternative Text)’ field in the Block editor.Editing the Alternative Text (alt text) of an image that has already been uploaded and added to a page in WordPress.
  2. Find the image in, or upload it to, the Media Library and use the ‘Alt Text’ field.

Adding alt-text to a WordPress image in the image library.

Tip
If you want to use the same image with different alt text at the same time somewhere else on the WordPress page/site, we advise you use a copy of the image to avoid the risk of inadvertently changing the original version’s alt text.

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Alt text for Word users

How to add/adjust alt text in Word

  1. Right-click the image and select ‘Edit Alt Text’, or for older versions of Word ‘Format Picture’.Adding Alt Text (Alternative Text) in Microsoft Word via right clicking on the image.
  2. If you selected ‘Edit Alt Text’ an Alt Text pane will appear, add or update the text box to describe the image and its context to someone who cannot see it.Adding Alternative Text (Alt Text) to an image in Microsoft Word.
  3. If your image is purely decorative and isn’t informative check the ‘Mark as decorative’ box on the ‘Alt Text’ pane. If there is no tick box leave the text box empty.
  4. If you right-clicked on the image and selected ‘Format Picture’ a Format Picture pane will appear. Go to the ‘layout and properties’ icon and select ‘Alt Text’. Add your description to the text box.Selecting the Layout and Properties icon and adding text.

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