Alternative Text

Alternative Text

Images and graphics are a very important part of your digital content but can obviously be an issue for people with visual impairments who either cannot see them at all or cannot see them well enough to perceive their message. To counter these issues we can use a strategy called alternative text (or alt-text for short).  Alt text is where a text description is added to an image to describe it.  This text will not be visible on the screen but a screen reader will be able to access it and will read it out to the screen reader user.

Alt-text can be applied to images in all Office packages (Word, Excel etc), webpages and social media. In fact Office software and social media will use artificial intelligence to automatically add alt-text to any images you put in documents or upload to social media.  In my experience it generally does a reasonable job of identifying and describing images but it is always better and very easy to add your own alt-text so that your image can be properly contextualised to anyone accessing it.

For example if we put the following image into Microsoft Word it will automatically generate the alt-text: ‘Men sitting at a table looking at a computer’

Two men sitting at laptops in an office with a bright window behind them

If you were using this image in a document or social media you might want to enter your own alt-text and be more specific about it. For example you might add the alt-text ‘John and Sam in our offices at Norton Park.  They are sitting in front of a bright window and are both typing into their new work laptops’.

Adding your own alt-text to digital images is quite easy but it is beyond the scope of this course to teach you how to add it to all the online resources you might want to add it to. If you would like more information on how to add alt-text to documents or social media please see our other more specific training on our training page.