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Re: Question about image in the alt attribute


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Jul 30, 2014 1:24PM

2014-07-30 21:07, Erica Ellis wrote:

> I have a question about images in my web based training. I am
> creating a training on Sexual Misconduct in Schools. The pictures
> that are on each slide don't add to the content but exist to beautify
> the slide and take up some of the white space. For example: on a
> slide that gives the definition of Sexual Misconduct, I might have a
> picture of two students posing outside of a school building. I have
> the option to make these images invisible to screen readers. What is
> preferred when images do not directly support the content and in the
> case of online training, do not add instructional value?

WCAG 2.0 Guideline 1.1 contains the following advice:
"If non-text content is pure decoration, is used only for visual
formatting, or is not presented to users, then it is implemented in a
way that it can be ignored by assistive technology."

This means that you should use an alt attribute with an empty value,
alt="", if the image is decoration.

The concept of decoration is debatable, and in your case, the image
might have the effect of orienting the user, reminding about the topic
somehow. What I mean is that it is not "pure decoration" in the same
sense as an abstract ornament or arbitrary decorative image, such as a
picture of a butterfly in a context that has absolutely nothing to do
with butterflies.

But to get back to reality, what could you possibly use as alternative
text for an "orienting" or "topical" image? Words that describe what the
images contain would probably disorient rather than help. Well, you
might consider some background music that somehow relates to the topic,
but that's not something you can do with an alt attribute and should be
an issue considered on its own.