Accessibility Tip of the Week: An introduction to Alternative Text

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This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about Alternative Text. Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

For all non-text content posted to the web, a text alternative must be provided. This applies to images, video, or audio content. When a screen reader encounters these elements, it is unable to programmatically interpret the image or file, and thus fails to convey its content and function. By providing a text alternative, authors can ensure everyone can enjoy their content.

The different non-text elements and their corresponding alternative text types are:

  • Images – Alternative text is a piece of text that accompanies the image, conveying the image’s content and function. This text may appear alongside the image, or it may be included in the image’s alternative text tag. Guides for including alternative tags in different software suites are featured on the district’s Website Accessibility Resources page.
  • Video – Captions are the textual alternative to spoken content within a video file. They may be created by using YouTube’s captioning service. While these automatically generated captions contain many errors, editing them is significantly faster than creating captions from scratch.
  • Audio – Transcripts should accompany audio files posted to the web. These may also be created by saving the audio as a video and using YouTube’s captioning service.