1.1.1 Alt text

If you think about all the content you access on your digital devices, you will notice that text only plays a relatively small role. Everything else, that is not text, is considered to be non-text content. This would include: photographs, illustrations, graphs, diagrams, screenshots and many other items. The very first WCAG criterion addresses these.

All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose.

What is alt text?

Alt text, short for alternate text, is a brief description of any non-text content, that is used by a screen reader and is read out to enable the user to perceive the information that sighted people receive visually.

Alt text can be added to images in most applications and social media platforms. In some applications, such as Microsoft Office, you can right-click on the image and edit alt text. On social media platforms, it is usually accessed via an EDIT button. Specific instructions will be given on the next few pages.

What does alt text sound like?

The following audio is JAWS reading a short Word document. There is one sentence and a photograph. The photograph has alt text, which is read out by JAWS. If you would like a transcript or would just like to compare the Word document with what JAWS is reading, there is a link after the audio controls.

Download Word document