Creating Accessible Images
Something to Think About...
Most people know that you need to provide alternative
text for images. This is probably the most talked-about
aspect of web accessibility. It is one of the easiest elements
of a web page to check for (e.g. does the image have
text or not?), and it is one of the easiest accessibility
techniques to understand (if the image has no
a blind person can't access it). The emphasis that has
been placed on
alt text is well-deserved, and has served
to solidify the concept of accessibility in the minds of
What many people do not know, though, is there is much
more to the accessibility of an image than just its
text. Some people wrongly assume that images are bad for
alt text essentially replaces the
image with a text-only version of that image. The logical
extension of that thought is that text-only sites are ideal
for accessibility. The problem with this logic, though,
is that it is based upon the needs of people with only
one type of disability: blindness. What about people with
low vision, or color-blindness, or deafness, or motor disabilities,
or cognitive disabilities?
Why would a text-only site be ideal for a deaf person? The answer is that it would not. Would a text-only site be ideal for someone with a reading disorder? Hardly. Images are not bad for accessibility. They actually increase comprehension and usability for most audiences.
That is why this section on graphics does not start with
the concept of alternative text. It starts with a discussion
about how to use graphics effectively to increase accessibility.
After this discussion, we will consider methods for creating