Make Your Graphics Accessible

Since graphics are, by their very nature, a visual medium, our primary focus is to make graphical information accessible to screen readers for the visually impaired. There are several ways we can facilitate this:

  1. Provide equivalent alternatives to visual content. At the very least, every non-text element (images, applets, Flash files, video files, and audio files) should include an alt attribute to describe the purpose of the element. Although the alt text should be complete enough that the purpose is clear, it should also be terse enough that visually impaired visitors aren’t overly delayed by unnecessary description. Note that providing nothing more than the name of the file is not generally an acceptable use of the alt attribute.

  2. If a non-text element is a link, populate the alt attribute with a description of the link destination.

  3. If a longer description is necessary for any non-text element, use the longdesc attribute on the <img /> tag to link to a separate page that contains the description.

  4. For complex non-text elements like graphs and charts, supplement them with detailed textual descriptions, either on the page itself or accessible by longdesc.

  5. For elements that are purely decorative, provide either a brief alt attribute alt="Company Picture", or an empty alt attribute alt="". Under no circumstances should the alt attribute be omitted.

  6. Use “The W3C Markup Validation Service” and check for accessibility lapses and missing alt tags.

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