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Writing helpful alt text and other web accessibility tips

Have you been asked to fill out image alt text information in Cascade or NUSites and not been sure what to write? Did you know you could make your Microsoft documents or PDFs accessible to screen readers? There are many easy ways that we can improve the accessibility of content and resources that we post online. Improving your web accessibility means that you are removing obstacles for members of our community. This can easily be done through using alt text, making documents accessible and adding captions on videos.

1. What makes a good alt text for an image?

2. Review your SiteImprove reports for your departmental website.

All Weinberg College departments and programs have monthly scheduled SiteImprove reports delivered via email to designated individuals in the departments. Read these reports and address any issues that come up each month. If you manage any websites not in Cascade, use the WAVE accessibility evaluation tool to evaluate the accessibility-friendliness of your website.

3. Make your Microsoft and PDF documents readable by screen-readers.

Learn how here: Microsoft documents, PDF documents. In addition to enabling accessibility in the settings for the document, some design tips include:

4. Review any videos posted to your website to make sure they have captions available.

Using YouTube’s automatic captioning feature is straightforward. If automatic captions are available, YouTube will automatically publish them. However, you should always review captions and edit any parts that haven’t been properly transcribed.

5. Write descriptive link text.

Some people navigate a webpage by tabbing through the page’s links. To make this easier, it’s important to ensure that the text linking a URL is descriptive enough for a reader to make sense of it outside of it’s context. Avoid generic link text  like “Learn More,” “Read More,” or “Click here” as they are too vague. Instead opt for unique link text, like the name of the page.

Additionally, ensure that links are easily identifiable by ensuring they have a text-decoration (typically this is set to an underline) and a link color that contrasts enough with the background and surrounding text. Siteimprove does this contrast check for your departmental webpages. For social media or other communication channels, try using the Contrast Checker by Acart Communications to check your contrast levels.

6. If working in HTML to build a website, be sure to use landmarks in your folder structure.

Landmarks behave as content bins for web pages and help users identify and navigate to the type of content they’re looking for. This is especially true for users who rely on AT (Assistive Technology) who have access to shortcuts that allow them to jump from landmark to landmark. You can view them in action on this W3C aria-landmark example page.

 7. See it in action!

Visit the Adaptive Technologies Lab workstations at the University Library to use speech-to-text dictation software, screen enlargers and screen reader software. Try listening to your website and see if you can find crucial information and navigate it easily.

AccessibleNU has other assistive technology available for eligible students. Learn more about their resources on the AccessibleNU website.  Making your website and content easily accessible to all helps ensure that all our community members can get the information they need to work, study, teach and research.



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