WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: Alt Text in PowerPoint 2010


From: Andrew Kirkpatrick
Date: Apr 13, 2011 8:12PM

PPT 2010 and Word 2010 only use the Description field when publishing to PDF.

There is an interesting bug in Word however that merits mention. When you create a new Word document the file format seems to be docx before it is saved. The issue comes when you create a document, insert an image, and add title and/or description, and then save as .doc instead of .docx.

If the Title value is set as "a ball" and the description is "a red ball sitting on a green lawn", when you save as .doc the title and description are combined and entered into the single alt text field used with the .doc format for images, and on top of that, some additional information is added for you. What you get in the alt text field is: "Title: a ball - Description: a red ball sitting on a green lawn".

The big risk is if you create a document that has title and/or description for a bunch of images and then you save it as .doc. That creates a lot of extra work in fixing those images.


Andrew Kirkpatrick
Group Product Manager, Accessibility
Adobe Systems


-----Original Message-----
From: <EMAIL REMOVED> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of John E Brandt
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 9:30 PM
To: 'WebAIM Discussion List'
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Alt Text in PowerPoint 2010

I believe that is still the case. A PPT 2007 file that has had "Alt text"
added shows that information in the Description box and nothing in the Title when converted and saved in PPT 2010. I am not sure if any AT reads the Title "tag" but this is what MS offers as way of explanation:

"A title can be read to a person with a disability and is used to determine whether they wish to hear the description of the content"

This statement come from the "Inspection Results/Additional Information"
that gets created when you run the Accessibility Checker in PPT 2010.

BTW, the Accessibility Checker also checks a number of other things including whether "objects," "Content Placeholders," shapes such as "rectangles," and "straight arrows" also have Alt text. The checker also looks for Slide Titles ensuring there is on and that each have a unique name, and on slides with multiple text boxes, instructs the author to check and make sure the reading order of the slide makes sense.


John E. Brandt
Augusta, Maine, USA

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Terrill Thompson
Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 8:35 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List ( <EMAIL REMOVED> )
Subject: [WebAIM] Alt Text in PowerPoint 2010

Hi All,

What's the current status of alt text in PowerPoint 2010? It's always seemed pretty progressive to me that Microsoft is providing an opportunity to tag images with both a Title and Description, Title (in theory) being analogous to the HTML alt attribute, and Description being an optional longer description for more complex images. Last I heard though, the general recommendation was to avoid the Title field and enter conventional alt text into the Description field, since the latter was the only field of the two that was reliably supported by assistive technologies and HTML/PDF conversion tools. Is this still the case? Is there any AT or conversion tool at all that supports both fields? It's a shame to have this feature and never be able to use it.

Thanks for any updates or insights.

Terrill Thompson
Technology Accessibility Specialist
DO-IT, UW Accessible Technology
UW Information Technology
University of Washington
<EMAIL REMOVED> | 206/221-4168