Alternate Text for Images

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Adding alternate text to images

Alternate text is attached to images by adding to or amending the HTML where the image is defined. If you’re not familiar with HTML you could skip this bit, but it’s not too technical – I hope.

The alternate text is added using the alt attribute of the image tag <img>. For example:

<img src="imagename.jpg" alt="This is the alternate text"... />

Contrary to popular belief the alt attribute is not an optional one in the HTML specifications so all image tags should have one. Screen readers and other assistive technologies will pick up whatever is in the alt attribute and voice it or otherwise convey it to the user.

But I use a content management system/blogging tool

Obviously not everyone gets their hands dirty in the HTML and many people use WYSIWYG page/site editors like Dreamweaver, or manage their sites through online content menagement systems like WordPress or Joomla.

All of these editors and systems should feature ways of setting the alternate text – but admittedly they are not always easily identified. For example in Joomla you are prompted for the image description. In WordPress however it’s clearly prompted ‘alternate text’.

My website developer handles that anyway

Even if site owners do not maintain their content themselves it’s useful to specify the appropriate alternate text to those who do maintain it. The site owner is best placed to understand the meaning of the images on a page.

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