What's the right alt text to use? (alternative text)

Discussion about accessibility related issues, including WCAG and US Government Section 508 federal standards.
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Albert Wiersch
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What's the right alt text to use? (alternative text)

Post by Albert Wiersch » Mon Jul 22, 2013 11:00 am

I was reviewing the HTML5 specification and read sections regarding alternate text for images (using the "alt" attribute):
http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/embedded-content-0.html#alt

It's not as easy as it might seem. There are cases when it should be an empty string, when it shouldn't, and when the "alt" attribute should be left out completely (rare).

I think it should also be stressed that "alt" text is replacement text for the image, not supplemental text, like what can be provided with the "title" attribute.

It should not repeat prose that is right next to it (in this case alt="" may be appropriate).

The "alt" attribute should only be omitted when no alternative text is available and none can be made available. Omitting the "alt" attribute is different than alt="", where the alternative text is an empty string.

There are good examples as well. I would suggest reviewing that section of the specification (4.8.1.1).

Also, keep in mind that using good alternative text may also help with SEO.
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MikeGale
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Re: What's the right alt text to use? (alternative text)

Post by MikeGale » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:08 am

Useful section.

Thanks.

I find that an empty alt string isn't that uncommon.

The suggestion that you put in there what you would say if you were "reading the page out" over the phone, seems like good advice to me.

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Re: What's the right alt text to use? (alternative text)

Post by RSteinwand » Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:01 am

Looks like I've got some work to do. I always have an alt with images, but sometimes I've set it to alt="".
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Re: What's the right alt text to use? (alternative text)

Post by LadynRed » Thu Sep 01, 2016 11:53 am


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Re: What's the right alt text to use? (alternative text)

Post by RSteinwand » Thu Sep 01, 2016 3:53 pm

Yes, that is a good guide.
Rick

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