Alt – who goes there? Adding ALT text to images


Accessibility is one of the most important aspects of your website. But many of us don’t even know what website accessibility is!

For those of you who don’t know, accessibility is about making the Internet available to everyone, regardless of any disabilities or challenges they might face. Not only is this the ethical responsibility of every business owner’s online storefront (just like providing wheelchair access to your real-world storefront), it’s the law.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act legally requires compliance from everyone, and if you don’t get on-board, your company faces fines of up to $50,000. And as of last January, the government already requires Stage II compliance.

Today, we’re talking about making images added to your website accessible to the visually challenged. When visually challenged users access the web, they use screen-readers. These tech tools scan websites for text and read it aloud for their users.

But what happens when a screen-reader tries to read a picture?

The answer is: they scan the picture’s coding for a textual alternative. Most website programs offer the option to add alternative text automatically, but many people simply opt to skip it, leaving visually impaired users lost. From product shots to image-buttons, think about what users might be missing on your website if they can’t see your pictures.

So let’s look at how easy it is to add alt text to your images: Wordpress option box for adding images

Here’s your standard image-adding box (if you use WordPress, though it looks similar in most website solutions).

The first line is the title, but the very next line is where you add your text-based alternative.

And all you need to do is describe the image you’ve added. If it’s puppies, your alt text might be “Dalmatian puppies playing in grass.” If it’s your logo, your alt text might be “the letters A, W, T and W in different colours.” The point is, with a handful of syllables, you can meet your legal and ethical responsibilities online!

Is your site AODA-compliant? Want to learn more about online accessibility? Check out the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines or give us a call.

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The diverse experience Sue Sutcliffe has gained as one of Canada’s digital marketing pioneers, will help your business or brand dominate the digital.
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