Southwest Conference on Disability

October 6, 2011
Part of a panel presentation with Sharron Rush, Emily Lewis, Jason Nakai, and Virginia DeBolt

Appropriate Alt Text for Functional Images

Functional images – images that serve as links. Use the destination as the alt text.

Appropriate Alt Text for Photographs

Appropriate Alt Text Fits the Context

girl with feet and toy truck in mud puddle

There is no "right" alt text for any image. It depends on the purpose of the image on the page.
What alt text would you use if this was in a family album, in a detergent ad, on a mosquito eradication site, on a weather site, or in a toy car site?

Image Credit: MollyPop

Appropriate Alt Text Fits the Context, one more time

facebook marketing solutions

What would be appropriate for this image if it were a link to the Facebook page on marketing solutions? What if it were an image illustrating a story about Facebook marketing solutions?

Decorative Images

A Walk in the Garden by Simon Van Hauwermeiren from CSS Zen

Everything that makes this page attractive is pure decoration and is in the stylesheet where it needs no alt text because it isn't part of the content. That includes the leaves, the clouds, the umbrella with swirls, the ideogram, and the designs behind the headings.

Style Rule Examples from the Previous Image

body {background: #e6fad6 url(body_bg.jpg) no-repeat top center;}

#container {background:url(content_bg_top.jpg) no-repeat top center;}
#pageHeader {background:url(header_what_about.gif) no-repeat top center;}

Testing Your Site: Browser Tools

Web Developer Toolbar for Firefox and Chrome offers a number of testing tools in the browser.

Web Developer Toolbar Tools Menu

Testing Your Site: WebAIM's WAVE

The WAVE tool identifies every element on your page, points out accessibility errors. When you hover over one of the icons WAVE displays, it explains what the error is.

The WAVE tools results page with accessibility errors marked

Testing Your Site: WebAIM Checklists

The WebAIM site has checklists for WCAG 2.0 and Section 508. WebAIM also has many articles about accessibility topics such as cognitive web accessibility, screen readers, and specific help for education, government, health care, business and non-profit site accessibility. WebAIM offers accessibility training.


Testing Your Site: Emulators

Search for emulators for specific devices by name. Or pick a site that offers skins for several devices. There are many sites for this, one example is

blackberry emulation

Testing Your Site: Cross-Browser and Cross-Device Testing

Sites such as and let you see screen shots of any page you want to test in a variety of browsers. This may include mobile device screen shots.

Other Tests

Knowbility Training provides accessibility training and conferences.

Resources and Links