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Librarian Accessibility Guide: Images

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...Use a Few!

By far the most common accessibility FAIL is neglecting to add an "alt" tag for images. What are the benefits to using a descriptive "alt" tag?

  • Screenreaders will use your descriptive text to explain what the picture is to a visually impaired site-visitor.
  • When images aren't displayed in the browser (maybe the image source is gone, the browser can't read it, or it doesn't fit on the screen), the browser will display the "alt" text so that site visitors know what was supposed to be in that spot.

A good descriptive "alt" tag will have enough information to bring the picture to life for visually impaired users, without being overly lengthy. You should avoid using descriptions like "A picture of" or "image of" because this is implied within the "alt" tag.

If you are using a LibGuides visual editor, the "alt" tag will be whatever terms you put in the "Image Description" text field.

Screenshot of LibGuides visual editor for images.

Bonus Tips!

  • Resize images prior to uploading them to your online guide to make sure that they "fit" within the column size. In addition to keeping your layout clean, it will speed up the amount of time it takes for your page to load because the browser won't have to "think" too hard.
  • Space accompanying text a little bit away from your image so that it doesn't bump right up against it. Use "h-space" to increase the distance between the end of the picture & the start of any text to the left or right of it; use "v-space" to distance the distance between the beginning or end of any text immediately above or below the picture.
  • Limit the amount of callout arrows or boxes that you add to your pictures & screenshot to keep the directions focused & to limit the amount of scrolling necessary to understand the image.

 

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