Image Description – An Integral part of Content Accessibility

Image Descriptions are key to providing equal access to people who are low vision or blind the same information from an accessibility perspective. Often referred to as image descriptions or alternate text or alt text, let’s discuss how you can ensure accessibility for images.

Images are an integral part of telling the story on the web, in books, in content in general, but how do we make images accessible. They say 80% of our learning comes from seeing, but what if you are unable to see the images. For visually impaired users, they might be unable to see the image and understand what the image conveys. This obviously creates a challenge from an accessibility perspective.

How do we:

  • describe images for people with disabilities?
  • know that the image description can be understood by people with visual impairment?
  • know that the image descriptions are accurate?

Whether it is a website, a textbook or a brochure, visual designers and content creators use images as a way to visually communicate with the audiences. Images are used to break the monotony of the text, images are used to depict the information differently.

The challenge ahead of us is making images accessible by ensuring that we add image descriptions that are effective for people with disabilities. Image descriptions are often referred to as alt text by some. We might decide whether an image is informative, in which we need to provide an image description or an alt text, if the image is decorative, we need to see how to skip that for our visually impaired users.

Basic Concepts of Image Description

  • Image descriptions that people with visual impairment can understand.
  • Image descriptions that convey the message.
  • Image descriptions that are concise by clear in what they are communicating.
  • Image descriptions that are accurate.

Often Image Descriptions are not given enough of an importance. Imagine studying for your science exam and not being able to understand what the image depicting the Movement of Molecules in and out of cells or not being able to understand a graph with the rice production per year across different countries.

Images are critical to the learning. Different users learn differently. Numerous users are visual today. Images can help us overcome these challenges but we also need to ensure to take everyone along with us. We can’t leave the visually impaired behind. We need to provide them access to images by providing image descriptions that support them in understanding what you and I have access to. It is about equal access to images, yes I said, equal access to images which are in the textbook, on the web or in a brochure telling me about a holiday destination.

At BarrierBreak, our image description services includes writing image descriptions for images but also testing it with people with disabilities. You might say, what a time-consuming effort! But if you are looking to implement image descriptions effectively and just want to talk, no string attached, then reach out to us at sales@barrierbreak.com or call us +91-22-26860485.