Alternative text (alt text) plays a crucial role in web accessibility by providing textual descriptions of images for users who may not be able to perceive them visually. It ensures that people with visual impairments using screen readers can still understand the content of a webpage or other digital platform. Alt text also benefits search engine optimisation (SEO) by providing context to images, improving their discoverability. By including descriptive and accurate alt text, websites become more inclusive, accessible, and user-friendly for all individuals, reinforcing the importance of considering diverse needs in digital content creation. If you’re unsure on how to write alt-text, we’ve got it covered:
- Be Descriptive: Describe the content and function of the image concisely and accurately. Focus on conveying the essential information rather than interpreting the image.
- Contextual Relevance: Ensure the alt text provides context relevant to the surrounding content and the purpose of the image within that context.
- Avoid Redundancy: If the surrounding text already describes the image adequately, use empty alt text (“”) to indicate the image is decorative or redundant.
- Avoid Ambiguity: Provide clear and unambiguous descriptions, avoiding vague terms or overly technical language that may be difficult for some users to understand.
- Image Function: Describe the function of the image if it is interactive or serves a specific purpose, such as a button or navigation element.
- Content Sensitivity: Be mindful of the content’s sensitivity and ensure the alt text is respectful and appropriate for all audiences.
- Text Length: Keep alt text concise while conveying the necessary information. UK regulations recommend a maximum of 125 characters but allow for longer descriptions if necessary for clarity.
- Alt Text Placement: Place alt text within the HTML code’s “alt” attribute associated with the image element.
- Testing and Review: Regularly review and test alt text to ensure it accurately represents the image and complies with accessibility standards.
- Training and Guidelines: Provide training and guidelines to content creators and web developers to ensure consistency and compliance with alt text requirements across all digital platforms.
For example, for the image below, the alt text is: Happy teacher and schoolgirl giving high five in classroom.