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Thread: Writing good ALT descriptions

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Number of posts in this thread: 10 (In chronological order)

From: John E. Brandt
Date: Tue, Jul 21 2009 12:25PM
Subject: Writing good ALT descriptions
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I am looking for a good resource to point people to who have questions about
writing good ALT descriptions. I could write one myself - well it would be
my opinion and not necessarily "good" in the eyes of everyone - but I would
rather have something that has been out there for a while, is mainstream and
generally well respected. It does not have to be long - in fact, I would
prefer something brief - and it should be fairly easy to understand.



Any suggestions or nominees?



~j



John E. Brandt

Web Design, Development, Consultation

Augusta, Maine USA

<http://www.jebswebs.com>; www.jebswebs.com
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =

207-622-7937

From: November Samnee
Date: Tue, Jul 21 2009 12:40PM
Subject: Re: Writing good ALT descriptions
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I've pointed developers to WebAim's coverage of Appropriate Alt
Text<http://www.webaim.org/techniques/alttext/>;many times. It has
many good working examples, though their screen reader
survey results may indicate that users really do want "photo of George
Washington."


On Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 1:25 PM, John E. Brandt < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> I am looking for a good resource to point people to who have questions
> about
> writing good ALT descriptions. I could write one myself - well it would be
> my opinion and not necessarily "good" in the eyes of everyone - but I would
> rather have something that has been out there for a while, is mainstream
> and
> generally well respected. It does not have to be long - in fact, I would
> prefer something brief - and it should be fairly easy to understand.
>
>
>
> Any suggestions or nominees?
>
>
>
> ~j
>
>
>
> John E. Brandt
>
> Web Design, Development, Consultation
>
> Augusta, Maine USA
>
> <http://www.jebswebs.com>; www.jebswebs.com
> = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
>
> 207-622-7937
>
>
>
>

From: Rahul Gonsalves
Date: Tue, Jul 21 2009 12:45PM
Subject: Re: Writing good ALT descriptions
← Previous message | Next message →

Hi John,

A quick Google search turns these up:

http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200811/writing_good_alt_text/

http://www.gawds.org/show.php?contentid=28

http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/web-accessibility/image-alt-text.shtml

http://webdesign.about.com/od/accessibility/a/great_alt_text.htm

Hope these help,
- Rahul.

On 21-Jul-09, at 11:55 PM, John E. Brandt wrote:

> I am looking for a good resource to point people to who have
> questions about
> writing good ALT descriptions. I could write one myself - well it
> would be
> my opinion and not necessarily "good" in the eyes of everyone - but
> I would
> rather have something that has been out there for a while, is
> mainstream and
> generally well respected. It does not have to be long - in fact, I
> would
> prefer something brief - and it should be fairly easy to understand.
>
>
>
> Any suggestions or nominees?
>
>
>
> ~j
>
>
>
> John E. Brandt
>
> Web Design, Development, Consultation
>
> Augusta, Maine USA
>
> <http://www.jebswebs.com>; www.jebswebs.com
> = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
>
> 207-622-7937
>
>
>
>

From: Geof Collis
Date: Tue, Jul 21 2009 1:00PM
Subject: Re: Writing good ALT descriptions
← Previous message | Next message →

Hi John

Here's one you might find of use

http://www.rnib.org.uk/wacblog/general/better-connected-better-results-alt-text/

cheers

Geof

At 02:25 PM 7/21/2009, you wrote:
>I am looking for a good resource to point people to who have questions about
>writing good ALT descriptions. I could write one myself - well it would be
>my opinion and not necessarily "good" in the eyes of everyone - but I would
>rather have something that has been out there for a while, is mainstream and
>generally well respected. It does not have to be long - in fact, I would
>prefer something brief - and it should be fairly easy to understand.
>
>
>
>Any suggestions or nominees?
>
>
>
>~j
>
>
>
>John E. Brandt
>
>Web Design, Development, Consultation
>
>Augusta, Maine USA
>
> <http://www.jebswebs.com>; www.jebswebs.com
> = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
>
>207-622-7937
>
>
>
>

From: John E. Brandt
Date: Tue, Jul 21 2009 2:35PM
Subject: Re: Writing good ALT descriptions
← Previous message | Next message →

Thanks everyone for your choices/suggestions. As I suspected might happen,
there were choices ranging from the brief to the expansive. I will probably
chose one that is somewhere in between. And, yes, maybe I will get around to
writing my own advice someday to add to the maelstrom.

John E. Brandt
Web Design, Development, Consultation
Augusta, Maine USA
www.jebswebs.com
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
207-622-7937 


-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
[mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of John E. Brandt
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 2:25 PM
To: 'WebAIM Discussion List'
Subject: [WebAIM] Writing good ALT descriptions

I am looking for a good resource to point people to who have questions about
writing good ALT descriptions. I could write one myself - well it would be
my opinion and not necessarily "good" in the eyes of everyone - but I would
rather have something that has been out there for a while, is mainstream and
generally well respected. It does not have to be long - in fact, I would
prefer something brief - and it should be fairly easy to understand.



Any suggestions or nominees?



~j



John E. Brandt

Web Design, Development, Consultation

Augusta, Maine USA

<http://www.jebswebs.com>; www.jebswebs.com
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =

207-622-7937

From: Korpela Jukka
Date: Tue, Jul 21 2009 10:10PM
Subject: Re: Writing good ALT descriptions
← Previous message | Next message →

John E. Brandt wrote:

> Thanks everyone for your choices/suggestions. As I suspected might happen,
> there were choices ranging from the brief to the expansive. I will
> probably chose one that is somewhere in between.

In a complex matter like the alt attribute issue, if you ask for a brief
and understandable presentation, you are asking for two presentations. If
you also want something essentially correct, you typically need a third
one, too.

The problem here is really that you did not specify what you would use it
for. Probably as guidelines for web authors, but would they be novices or
highly experienced? The latter might be a tough case, since they think
they already know things and they probably have misconceptions and bad
practices they regard as expert methods.

It also matters how complex the pages will be and how images will be used
on them, as well as their overall accessibility. But considering typical
situations, an author will be usually far ahead of the vast majority in
alt text usage for accessibility, if he follows these rules:

1. Think how your page should behave when an image on it is not displayed.
2. If this behavior can be caused by specifying a short text alternative
(possibly empty) to the image, use that text as alt="..." attribute value
for the image.
3. Otherwise redesign the use of the image or its placement or content
around it and go to step 1.

From: Mills, Teresa
Date: Wed, Jul 22 2009 2:00PM
Subject: Re: Writing good ALT descriptions
← Previous message | Next message →

I point people to the following resources:

(a) A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc", or in element content).

http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm#(a)

http://www.jimthatcher.com/webcourse2.htm

Related Information

Creating Accessible Graphics (WEBAIM)
http://www.webaim.org/techniques/images/

Appropriate Use of Alternative Text
http://www.webaim.org/techniques/alttext/

Describing Illustrations, Diagrams, Maps, Tables, Charts, and Graphs
http://www.w3.org/2000/08/nba-manual/Overview.html

Guidelines on alt texts in img elements
http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/html/alt.html

Example of D link
http://www.consideration.org/technology/accessexamples/dlinksample.html


-----Original Message-----
From: November Samnee [mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ]
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 2:37 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Writing good ALT descriptions

I've pointed developers to WebAim's coverage of Appropriate Alt
Text<http://www.webaim.org/techniques/alttext/>;many times. It has
many good working examples, though their screen reader
survey results may indicate that users really do want "photo of George
Washington."


On Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 1:25 PM, John E. Brandt < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:

> I am looking for a good resource to point people to who have questions
> about
> writing good ALT descriptions. I could write one myself - well it would be
> my opinion and not necessarily "good" in the eyes of everyone - but I would
> rather have something that has been out there for a while, is mainstream
> and
> generally well respected. It does not have to be long - in fact, I would
> prefer something brief - and it should be fairly easy to understand.
>
>
>
> Any suggestions or nominees?
>
>
>
> ~j
>
>
>
> John E. Brandt
>
> Web Design, Development, Consultation
>
> Augusta, Maine USA
>
> <http://www.jebswebs.com>; www.jebswebs.com
> = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
>
> 207-622-7937
>
>
>
>

From: ejp10
Date: Wed, Jul 22 2009 2:20PM
Subject: Re: Writing good ALT descriptions
← Previous message | Next message →

I think the sites given are good recommendations, but a good quick &
dirty tip I heard is to imagine you are reading the document over the
phone. I think it helps me understand functional vs aesthetic
information in a graphic.

For example if I see a university logo in a header, I figure I would
read the name of the university over the phone, but not describe the
details of the logo.

My two cents

Elizabeth

On Jul 22, 2009, at 2:00 PM, = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = wrote:

>
> From: "John E. Brandt" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
> Date: July 21, 2009 2:25:07 PM EDT
> To: "'WebAIM Discussion List'" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
> Subject: [WebAIM] Writing good ALT descriptions
> Reply-To: WebAIM Discussion List < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
>
>
> I am looking for a good resource to point people to who have
> questions about
> writing good ALT descriptions. I could write one myself - well it
> would be
> my opinion and not necessarily "good" in the eyes of everyone - but
> I would
> rather have something that has been out there for a while, is
> mainstream and
> generally well respected. It does not have to be long - in fact, I
> would
> prefer something brief - and it should be fairly easy to understand.
>
>
>
> Any suggestions or nominees?
>

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Instructional Designer
Education Technology Services, TLT/ITS
Penn State University
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = , (814) 865-0805 or (814) 865-2030 (Main Office)

210 Rider Building (formerly Rider II)
227 W. Beaver Avenue
State College, PA 16801-4819
http://www.personal.psu.edu/ejp10/psu
http://tlt.psu.edu

From: Mike Osborne - AccEase
Date: Wed, Jul 22 2009 4:35PM
Subject: Re: Writing good ALT descriptions
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A workshop exercise we do is to provide a two sets of images A & B to 2
groups and get them to write alt text for each image. Then we get them to
pair up and read the alt text and describe the image from the alt text to
the author and ultimately to view the images. Very revealing and a great way
to show that writing good alt text is much harder than it seems.

Regards
Mike Osborne

AccEase Ltd
p. 04 934 2821
m. 021 675 010
e. = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
w. www.AccEase.com

-----Original Message-----
From: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
[mailto: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = ] On Behalf Of ejp10
Sent: Thursday, 23 July 2009 8:16 a.m.
To: = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Writing good ALT descriptions

I think the sites given are good recommendations, but a good quick &
dirty tip I heard is to imagine you are reading the document over the
phone. I think it helps me understand functional vs aesthetic
information in a graphic.

For example if I see a university logo in a header, I figure I would
read the name of the university over the phone, but not describe the
details of the logo.

My two cents

Elizabeth

On Jul 22, 2009, at 2:00 PM, = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = wrote:

>
> From: "John E. Brandt" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
> Date: July 21, 2009 2:25:07 PM EDT
> To: "'WebAIM Discussion List'" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
> Subject: [WebAIM] Writing good ALT descriptions
> Reply-To: WebAIM Discussion List < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
>
>
> I am looking for a good resource to point people to who have
> questions about
> writing good ALT descriptions. I could write one myself - well it
> would be
> my opinion and not necessarily "good" in the eyes of everyone - but
> I would
> rather have something that has been out there for a while, is
> mainstream and
> generally well respected. It does not have to be long - in fact, I
> would
> prefer something brief - and it should be fairly easy to understand.
>
>
>
> Any suggestions or nominees?
>

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Instructional Designer
Education Technology Services, TLT/ITS
Penn State University
= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = , (814) 865-0805 or (814) 865-2030 (Main Office)

210 Rider Building (formerly Rider II)
227 W. Beaver Avenue
State College, PA 16801-4819
http://www.personal.psu.edu/ejp10/psu
http://tlt.psu.edu

From: Iza Bartosiewicz
Date: Thu, Jul 23 2009 7:30PM
Subject: Re: Writing good ALT descriptions
← Previous message | No next message

Hi John,

These are the instructions for writing image descriptions I give to people:

1. Look at the image in its context
2. Determine its type/function it performs on the page (decorative, logo, link, illustration, text replacement...)
3. Write appropriate text replacement for that image, i.e.:

a) All decorative images should be in CSS; where this is not possible, provide blank alt text attribute
- it should be alt="" unless you are using a content management system that doesn't accept blank alt text, in which case you may need to add a space alt=" "

b) Provide an equivalent text alternative for all content and linked images. It must:
- be equivalent to the original content
- fulfill the same purpose as the original content
- describe the function not the image itself
- be concise

c) Complex images (maps, charts, graphs, illustrations) must have appropriate text alternative as well as long description.

Then I provide some examples.

Regarding the D link example from the list of links below, I no longer recommend using D links to provide long description. Not only D links have been deprecated in favour of 'longdesc' in WCAG 1.0, but the link text is not meaningful, so it doesn't meet the 13.1 checkpoint requirement (Clearly identify the target of each link).

A better approach is to make the link text meaningful, but WCAG 2.0 G73 suggests some other ways of fulfilling this requirement (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG-TECHS/G73.html) that may be preferred in some cases.

Hope this helps

cheers
Iza

--

----
Izabella Bartosiewicz
Web Coordinator
RMIT University Library

p 03 9925 3103
e = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED =
h www.rmit.edu.au/library

Save a tree... Don't print this email unless you have to...


>>> On 23/07/09 at 5:55, "Mills, Teresa" < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
> I point people to the following resources:
>
> (a) A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via
> "alt", "longdesc", or in element content).
>
> http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm#(a)
>
> http://www.jimthatcher.com/webcourse2.htm
>
> Related Information
>
> Creating Accessible Graphics (WEBAIM)
> http://www.webaim.org/techniques/images/
>
> Appropriate Use of Alternative Text
> http://www.webaim.org/techniques/alttext/
>
> Describing Illustrations, Diagrams, Maps, Tables, Charts, and Graphs
> http://www.w3.org/2000/08/nba-manual/Overview.html
>
> Guidelines on alt texts in img elements
> http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/html/alt.html
>
> Example of D link
> http://www.consideration.org/technology/accessexamples/dlinksample.html
>