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Table of Contents

\uD83D\uDCD8 Instructions

Section 5.1: Images with Alternative Text (Alt Text).

All images regardless of their complexity need to have an Alt text in some way. Alt Text is a brief description of your image that is 150 characters or less. This Alt Text is meant for any image that has meaning within the context of the document. Screen readers cannot read images to the reader, so Alt text acts as a substitute.

To create your Alt text for a photo,

  1. Right click your image and click Edit Alt Text.

  2. The Alt Text panel will appear on the right side of the screen. In the text box, type in your alt text describing the image.

    An image of a little boy doing his homework at a table surrounded by supplies. It is in the late afternoon.Alt Text Panel, A little boy doing his homework at a table surrounded by supplies. It is in the late afternoon.

Section 5.2: Decorative Images

If the photo has no meaning, it still needs an Alt Text, but just mark it as a Decorative Image.

To mark it as a Decorative Image,

  1. Right click on your image and click Edit Alt Text in the pop-up menu.

    Decorative Image Example
  2. In the Alt Text Panel on the right side. Check “Mark as Decorative.”

    Alt Text panel in Microsoft Word with Mark as decorative checked.

Section 5.3: Long Descriptions

When using complex images, pie charts, or bar graphs, describe it using an alt text and a long description. Long descriptions give you more freedom to explain the image in as much as you need to. There are many ways to create a long description including:

  • Describing the complex image in text below the image.

  • Adding a link below the complex image.

  • Providing the data from the image in text form.

Make sure the long description is visible to all users. Even if they are links, or buttons.

A pie chart of the most popular sports in the USA without a text description.

This pie chart is missing a long description. This will be an issue to readers who cannot see at all or can see very little.

A pie chart of the most popular sports with a link to the text description.Image RemovedA pie chart of the Most Popular Sports in the USA with a link to a long description under the chart.Image Added

This pie chart is now accessible due to it having a link. The link will take the reader to a long description or index when clicked.

A pie chart with a long description of the chart underneath itImage RemovedA pie chart of the Most Popular Sports in the USA with a long description below.Image Added

This pie chart contains a long description that tells the reader what is on the pie chart. This will make it much easier to understand the chart, and learn at a faster pace.

A pie chart for the Most Popular Sports in the USA. The alt text panel gives instructions to read the table below the pie chart.Image RemovedA pie chart of the Most Popular Sports in the USA with a table presenting the data below the chart.Image Added

This example is accessible because a table is under the pie chart. The data table and the chart have the same information. Now a person with a screen reader has a better option to read the data.

Section 5.4: Using Captions

Captions can be used for making images accessible. Any caption made will be read as normal text. It is still recommended to provide the image an alt text with the caption. This is because captions are usually the titles of the picture. A title is not enough to describe the image to a user who is blind. To add a caption an image,

  1. Upload a picture into Microsoft Word.

    An image of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci
  2. With the image selected, go to the References Tab, then look for the Captions group.

    References Tab in Microsoft Word
  3. Click Insert Captions.

    Insert Caption Button in Microsoft Word
  4. The Captions Box should appear. In the Caption box, type in the name of your image.

    MS Word Caption Box labeled Figure 1 Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci
  5. You now have an accessible captions for your image.

    An image of the Mona Lisa with a caption saying Figure 1 Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci

Section 5.5: Watermarks and Backgrounds

All creators should avoid using any watermarks or backgrounds that distract from the actual text or image of a document. It is best to simply not use them at all. One of the most common examples of a water mark is when a person creates a draft. Instead of using a watermark, just type up at the top, “This document is a draft”. This will make it easy for a screen reader to read the warning or information to a reader.

Why Accessibility Matters essay with a draft watermark going across the page at an angle.

The “Draft” watermark going across the page is very distracting and takes away from the importance of the text itself. Do not use watermarks in this way.

Why Accessibility Matters essay with a note at the top of the page that the document is a draft.

This draft tells the reader at the top, before anything is read, that it is a draft. If you have a draft, confidential papers, or top secret information, place the queue at the top of the paper.

Section 5.6: Floating Objects

Its better to not use any floating objects in Word. Floating objects are not part of a documents structure. When they are brought into a project, they can disrupt the flow and make the content hard to read. JAWS 18 and newer can read some floating objects at their anchor or insertion point. However, they cannot read text boxes (the alt text is not automatically read). JAWS users can also use Control>Shift>O to access a list of floating objects. The issue here is that they can easily be read out of order or violate the flow of the text. NVDA can also read some floating objects in the drawing layer, but only if they are inline with the text.

Inline Objects are more accessible for readers. The only way you can use Floating Objects, is by making sure they are inline with the text. If this cannot be done, do not use Floating Objects.

How to make Text Boxes Accessible

Generally, screen readers cannot access the text box. Despite this, there are still ways of making a text box accessible to all readers.

  • Create a warning or alert to the reader that there are text boxes and how to access them.

  • Position Text Boxes inline with the text.

  • Text boxes should be given Alt Text.

To create a text box, use the following steps.

  1. Go to the Insert Tab.

    Insert Tab in Microsoft Word
  2. In the Illustrations Panel, click the Shapes Button.

    Shapes button in Microsoft Word with a blue square and white circle symbol.
  3. Click Create Textbox in the upper left corner of the dropdown menu.

    A textbox with the text - The sentence is inside a text box

A text box is used above. There really was no reason to put text inside a text box. Placing it on the document itself would have meant the exact same thing.

Why Accessibility Matters essay without a text box

There is no text box used and the text is on the document as it should be.

Create a Warning or Alert to the Reader that there are Text Boxes

Text boxes with out a warning or notice of their existence

These text boxes do not have any warning or alert. Now the screen reader will look past them and the readers would have no idea they are there.

Text boxes with a warning at the top of the page.

These text boxes now have that important warning, including instructions on how to access the text boxes.

Position Text Boxes Inline with the Text

A text box inside a paragraph of text

This example has the text box appear out of line in the paragraph. The result is a mess in format, poor design, and difficult to read text.

A text box inline with the text paragraph

This text box is now inline with the text. It causes very little disruption to the format and look of the page. To make your text box inline with the text, click the text box. Then click the Layout Options button, finally, click Inline with text.

Text Boxes should be given Alt Text

Text box with an Alt Text Panel open, no Alt Text is written

Alt text for a text box is not read automatically, but you should still create an alt text for readers. Its always good to get into this habit, especially since technology improves at a rapid pace.

Text box with Alt Text labeled as Text Box 1

This text box has alt text and it describes, in short, what the content is in the text box.

Section 5.7: Smart Art

In order for Smart Art to be accessible, only two rules must be followed.

  • The smart art has to be inline with the text.

  • You must provide an Alt Text for the smart art.

The Smart Art has to be Inline with the Text

Smart Art inside multiple paragraphs of text

When the Smart Art is not inline with the text, it integrates itself into the text. This causes a huge mess of space. The smart art forces all of the words to clear away and it blends itself poorly into the paragraph.

Smart Text is inline with text

This Smart Art example shows it outside of the text. The Smart art does not interfere with anything and adds a good look to the page.

The Smart Art must have an Alt Text

Project Water Cycle Smart Art without Alt Text

There is no Alt Text, so the reader and screen reader will ignore this image and move on. There is important information in the graph, so always include an Alt Text.

Project Water Cycle Smart Art with alt text showing the 5 phases. Evaporation, Condensation, Precipitation, Infiltration, Runoff

An Alt Text has been included in the Word Document. The alt text explains exactly what is in the graph and describes the graph itself.

Section 5.8: Shapes

Shapes cannot be read by screen readers because it is considered to be floating content. Each screen reader treats shapes differently. NVDA announces the shape as “slash”, but does not read the alt text. JAWS announces the type of shape and the size, but does not read the alt text. VoiceOver automatically reads the alt text and announces that it is a shape, but not what shape. In short, there is no good way for shapes to be read yet. When creating shapes, follow these rules to make them more accessible.

Rule 1: The individual shapes may not be meaningful, but the overall drawing might be. Provide Alt Text to only one of the objects.

Rule 2: Make the shape inline with the text. To do this, right click the shape, go to Wrap Text > In Line with Text.

A paragraph of text with a star shape covering the text.

The shape is not inline with the text. With the shape overlapping the text, the shape could interfere with a person ability to see the text.

The star is now visible before the paragraph and not interfering with the text.

The shape is now inline with the text. This presents a more organized look for the page, and nothing is distracting the viewer.

Rule 3: It is always recommended to add Alt Text to a shape. To do this, right click the shape. Then click Edit Alt Text. In 100 characters or less, describe your shape.

Rule 4: For exporting to HTML and EPUB, take screenshots and supply alt text.

Rule 5: A user must be alerted to meaningful shapes in the document.

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