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ALT text usage for Geology test questions


Date: Oct 25, 2016 10:50AM

Good afternoon all,

I was recently asked by someone how to handle alt text for TEST QUESTIONS in an LMS (Blackboard Learn). The question is visual in nature and shows the student a photograph of a rock or mineral with a ruler for scale. The student then chooses an answer from a list provided.

The thing I am struggling with is how to use ALT text in the best way to balance the need for accessibility with student learning. For example, if the photo was of quartz, I could easily put “white mineral”, but a blind student (using JAWS for example) would hear “white mineral” and then just guess quartz (therefore not really testing if they know how to differentiate between minerals.) Conversely, “white mineral” could also be vague.

My suggestion would be for the alt text to read “a hard white or colorless mineral consisting of silicon dioxide, found widely in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.” This ALT text would actually test their knowledge. However, it also might give away the answer right away and not test knowledge.

Would be appreciative if anyone has suggestions or comments on my ideas above or any resources that can be shared on writing good ALT text for test questions.


Jason Piatt, M.Ed.
Electronic & Information Technology Manager, Student Accessibility Services
Kent State University
330.672.8032 | <EMAIL REMOVED>