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Re: Microsoft Word: Decorative Image Accessibility


From: Karlen Communications
Date: Jun 26, 2019 12:39PM

The null attribute used in Word never did work. As someone who uses JAWS,
what I would hear if "graphic, quote, quote" and if the Word document or
other content from an Office application was converted to tagged PDF, I
would hear the same in the PDF document. Same for any other Office
application. They are not HTML editors producing HTML based content so do
not have the concept of null alt text as it is implemented in HTML.

For almost a year now, we've had the ability to use the Mark as Decorative
check box in the alt text Pane in Office applications if you have an Office
365 subscription and if you were an Office Insider. Sounds like it is being
deployed to those with a general Office 365 subscription now.

At first none of the screen readers supported this so I heard "graphic and
the dimensions of the image when I came across one that I'd marked as
decorative. Now, although hit and miss, JAWS will tell me "graphic,
decorative" or fall back on "graphic, its dimensions."

This feature is not backward compatible. If you mark an image as decorative
in Word and send it to someone with an earlier version of Word, the
accessibility checker will flag it as an image requiring Alt text but the
person you sent the document/content to won't be able to add Alt text.
Because you marked the image as decorative, you are the only one who can
unmark it unless they send it to another person who has a later version of
the application (Office 365 subscription) with access to the Mark as
Decorative check box to turn it off and add Alt text.

However, if you do mark an image as decorative in Word or other Office 365
subscription applications and you then convert that content to tagged PDF
using either the Microsoft ability to do so or the Acrobat Ribbon, the image
IS converted as an Artifact so is also decorative in the resulting PDF

Note that more recent versions of Office 365 subscription applications also
have the ability to automatically generate Alt Text. However, if you use
this tool, any images you generate Alt Text for will appear in an
accessibility check because Microsoft wants you to check and make sure that
the Alt text IS meaningful for the image. There is also a caveat in the Alt
text that states that it was automatically generated which is voiced by
adaptive technology and will also convert as part of the Alt text to tagged

This is the "Intelligent Services" category of warnings in the accessibility
checkers in the Office 365 subscription applications.

Cheers, Karen

-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of Jim
Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2019 1:34 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
Subject: [WebAIM] Microsoft Word: Decorative Image Accessibility

This is with Word 2016.

* The accessibility checker wants me to mark decorative images with a
check box.
* When I do that, JAWS says the word "Decorative" for these images.
* NVDA does not say anything for these same images, unless I use the
Advanced settings and use the experimental UIA settings.
* On the web, blank alt text makes decorative images disappear for both
screen readers.
* I was lead to believe that if I put a single space as the alt text in
Word, that a screen reader would ignore any image with a single space as alt
* As a screen reader user, I am used to not hearing anything for
decorative images, because this is how I was trained it should work.

My question is: How should this work, since I do not necessarily know which
screen reader a person might have when they read my Word document?



Jim Homme
Digital Accessibility
Bender Consulting Services