Informative or Decorative?
Before you apply this ADA best practice to the visual content in your course, first you need to discern whether or not the images are informative or decorative.
Essential to understanding content, concepts, or the purpose of the page.
Example: Chart. This an informative chart that I’ve embedded into a PowerPoint slide as picture file (.jpg).
Non-essential to understand the content or purpose of the page.
Example: Icon. This icon is a decorative visual element that is aligned before the text (“Do Your Best Work”). The icon is not necessary for a student to understand this section of the page.
Informative Visual Content
This type of visual content requires the use of alternative text (also known as “alt tags” and “alt descriptions”). This text helps screen-reading tools describe visual content to visually impaired students.
Decorative Visual Content
This type of visual content should be marked as decorative (when the option is available). When an image is marked as decorative, that cues a screen reader to skip over it rather than reading it’s alternative text.
Follow the guides below to learn how to add alt. text or make images decorative in your materials. Keep in mind that the “decorative” option is not available on all platforms (e.g., Google Sheets and Google Docs).
Before you add an image to your instructional material(s), check the file name. Sometimes we save files as arbitrary names, (ex. image001.jpg). Rename the file to something meaningful, (ex. Image of President Roosevelt). The file name will populate as the auto alt. text for many platforms, saving you time in writing or editing alternative text.