Missing alt text: picture, text box, other elements
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MICROSOFT WORD 2010
508 ACCESSIBILITY CHECKLIST

Icon depicting an image with missing alt text

Missing alt text: picture, text box, other elements

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Requirements for 508 compliance

Provide alternative text or descriptions for non-decorative images, images within a link, form fields, and other interface elements.


How to test

Watch video (1:12 mins)

Video On Demand buttonVideo On Demand button - EWD version

Check whether alternate text has been used and is appropriate / sufficient

To examine alternate text for images:

  • To look for the presence of alternate text, Run the accessibility checker: "Missing Alt Text"
  • Use the Alt text for images guide to determine whether the alternate text is appropriate / sufficient

Note: Null alt text (no alt text or a single space character) is acceptable for decorative and redundant images, although an error will be generated in the checker.


How to fix

Watch video (3:22 mins)

Video On Demand buttonVideo On Demand button - EWD version

Add alternate text for pictures, charts, shapes etc.:

  • Select the item, then open the context menu (right click), select Format…

    Selecting the Format Picture control from the context menu.
  • The Format dialog box opens.
  • In the Format dialog box, Alt Text Tab, add the alternate text in the Description field. Give the purpose and function of the picture within the context of the surrounding information. Avoid putting redundant and/or irrelevant information into the alternate text.

    The Format Picture Dialog Box. The purpose and function of the associated picture is described within the context of the information that surrounds it. The alternate text is added to the description field. The title field can be left blank.

    Note: The Title field is not necessary for accessibility. It can be left blank.

    Note: A detailed guide is available for determining content for alternative text in different situations (see below).

For images depicting text

  • When an image depicts text, the alternative text for the image should use the text in the image.
  • Give the purpose and function of the picture within the context of the surrounding information. Also provide any text shown in the image, verbatim.

    A picture shows a guide dog in two distinct poses with quotes overlaying the two pictures. There is an inset showing the proposed alternate text which includes both the written quotes and the pertinent information contained in the dog's poses.

Note: A detailed guide is available for determining content for alternative text in different situations (see below).

Remove alternative text for decorative or formatting images

  • Supply a null alternative text value for decorative or formatting images (ALT="") so they are skipped by assistive technologies.

    A banner is comprised of three images, two of which are decorative. It is noted that the center picture of the guide dog is informational and so needs alternate text. The other dog-bone pictures that make up the banner are decorative, and so do not need alternate text.

Note: Null alt text (no alt text or a single space character) is acceptable for decorative and redundant images, although an error will be generated in the checker.

Note: A detailed guide is available for determining content for alternative text in different situations (see below).

Follow detailed guidance for alternate text:


Cover page of the Alternate text for images guide.

Use the Alternate text for images guide to determine content for alternative text in different situations. The guide covers the following topics:

Use the Alternate text for images guide to determine content for alternative text in different situations. The guide covers the following topics:

  • Conveying purpose and function of a picture
  • Appropriate length and level of detail to use
  • Common mistakes
  • Specific guidance for different types of pictures, including
    • Portraits (head-shots)
    • Charts, diagrams and illustrations
    • Logos
    • Text contained in an image
    • Text rendered as an image
    • Bullets
    • Spacers (structural images)
    • Lines, horizontal rules, and separators
    • Decorative images
    • Background images
    • Watermarks
    • Signatures
    • Complex / ungrouped / tiled / layered images

Examples

Provide alternative text or descriptions for non-decorative images, images within a link, form fields, and other interface elements.

Correct:

(Select the image to download example file in MS Word format)


A paragraph of text describes guiding actions and the leading nature of the guide dog. The alternate text for the associated image correctly gives a description that works in the context of the surrounding information, describing the relative positions of the dog and the handler.

Incorrect:

(Select the image to download example file in MS Word format)


A paragraph of text describes guiding actions and the leading nature of the guide dog. The erroneous alternate text for the associated image is simply
Rationale

Provide alternative text or descriptions for non-decorative images, images within a link, form fields, and other interface elements.

People who are blind or have low vision may need additional information presented as text so they can access information and control interface elements. Complex images may require detailed descriptions to convey important or useful information. For instance, provide a more detailed description for a chart demonstrating a growth trend.

Legal References

508 references:

1194.21(d); 1194.21(f); 1194.22(a); 1194.22(i); 1194.22(l); 1194.22(n); 1194.31(a); 1194.31(b).

WCAG references:

1.1.1-H37.

All Microsoft Word Requirements


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