Creating Accessible Images: A Comprehensive Guide

Graphical picture of Creating Accessible Images

Key Pointers:

  • As the number of images published online continues to grow, it’s crucial that people with visual disabilities can access visual information. This is achieved through accurate descriptions known as alt-text.
  • Websites must provide alt-text for all images to comply with WCAG accessibility standards. Alt-text descriptions help people with visual impairments understand the content of an image through assistive technology like screen readers.
  • Organizations that make their images accessible improve their website’s SEO and meet WCAG compliance standards, creating an inclusive platform for people with visual disabilities.
  • With the help of AI-powered image remediation tools like Invicta, organizations can easily meet image accessibility standards by accurately tagging high volumes of images.
  • By adding alt-text to images, organizations can ensure their content is accessible to everyone, including those with visual impairments.

What is Image Accessibility?

In the modern digital age, websites have become critical to disseminating information, products, and services to people of all abilities. However, ensuring that all individuals, including those with disabilities, have equal access to online resources is an ethical responsibility and a legal obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Website accessibility is a significant concern, and images are critical in enhancing the user experience.
Creating accessible images that are ADA-compliant can be daunting. Proper image accessibility requires providing alternative text descriptions, or “alt text,” for images. Alt text is a concise description of an image that can be read by assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to convey the content and purpose of the image to users who cannot see it. In addition to alt text, other factors such as color contrast, image size, formatting, and navigation must also be considered when creating accessible images.

The Importance of Creating Accessible Images for Websites

Images have become integral to website design, serving various purposes, such as enhancing user engagement, conveying information, and creating an appealing visual experience. However, for users with disabilities, images can be a barrier to access and communication if they are not designed with accessibility in mind.
Here are a few reasons why image accessibility is critical to an accessible website:
  • Assistive technology: Alt text provides a textual description of an image that can be read by screen readers and other assistive technologies, allowing users with visual impairments to understand the image’s content.
  • Web accessibility: The use of alt text is a requirement under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which is an internationally recognized standard for web accessibility.
  • SEO benefits: Alt text helps search engines understand the content of an image and index it accordingly, which can improve a website’s search engine optimization (SEO) and increase its visibility in search results.
  • User experience: Alt text provides context for images, making the content more meaningful and engaging for all users, including those who are not visually impaired.
  • Legal compliance: In many countries, including the United States, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), websites must be accessible to people with disabilities, and using alt text is a crucial part of meeting those accessibility requirements.

Who Benefits From Accessible Images?

Accessible images benefit a range of users, including those who are visually impaired and use screen readers to navigate a website. By providing alt text, screen readers can announce the content of an image, ensuring that visually impaired users can fully engage with the website’s content. Users with situational disability, such as those with slow internet connections or low cell data, can also benefit from accessible images by turning off images and still engaging with the website’s content.
Additionally, ensuring proper color contrast is essential for users with color blindness or low vision to distinguish between different elements on the website. Choosing colors with a high level of contrast between text and background and other design elements such as buttons or links is necessary. Formatting also plays a role in creating accessible images. Using descriptive file names and organizing images logically on the website is essential. Adding captions or descriptions can also be helpful for users with cognitive disabilities.
Moreover, accessible images can benefit website owners by increasing their search engine optimization. Search engines can easily index the alt text associated with images, leading to a higher ranking in search results. Overall, providing accessible images benefits a wide range of users and can ultimately improve the usability and functionality of a website.

Guidelines to Make Images Accessible

Making images accessible on your website is crucial to ensuring that all users, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can access and understand your content. You can take several steps to make your images accessible, including using alt text, providing descriptions in HTML, and adding captions for images. Here are a few guidelines to help you make all types of images on your website accessible to everyone.
  • Alt text: Alt text is a concise description of an image that can be read by assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to convey the content and purpose of the image to users who cannot see it. Make sure to use alternative information that accurately describes the image.
  • Decorative images: These images do not convey any meaning and are purely for decorative purposes. For these images, it is essential to provide an empty alt attribute (i.e., alt=””) to ensure that screen readers skip over them.
  • Functional images: These images perform a specific function, such as a button or a link. In this case, it’s essential to provide a clear and concise alt attribute that describes the function of the image.
  • Images that convey complex information: For images that convey complex information, it’s important to provide a detailed description in the HTML code.
  • Captions for images: Captions provide additional context and information for an image. They can be accommodating for users who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Text alternatives for complex images: A longer text alternative may be necessary for images that are difficult to describe in a brief alt text or caption. This can be provided in the HTML code and should include a detailed image description.
  • Linked images: For images that are used as links, it’s essential to provide a clear and concise alt attribute that describes the destination of the link.
  • Color contrast: Ensure sufficient contrast between the image and its background. This will help users with low vision to differentiate the image from its surroundings.
  • Formatting: Proper formattings, such as providing sufficient spacing between images and text, will make it easier for users to navigate and comprehend the content.
  • Add a description in HTML: Add a description of the image in the HTML code. This is especially important for complex images such as graphs, charts, and diagrams, where more than the alt text is needed to convey the complete information.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure that all types of images on your website are accessible to all users.

Invicta™'s AI-powered Solutions for Accessible Images

Are you looking to make your website or content more inclusive for all users? One crucial step is to ensure that all images have alt text or alternative text descriptions, which allows users with visual impairments to understand the content of an image through assistive technology like screen readers.
Our AI-powered image remediation solution, Invicta™ can help your organization auto-generate alt text for your images, making them accessible to everyone. Here are just a few of the benefits of using our tool:
  • Fully compliant: Our AI-powered image remediation solution fully complies with WCAG and Section 508, ensuring your website is accessible and meets regulatory standards.
  • Efficient: Invicta™ can quickly and accurately tag high volumes of images, saving you time and allowing you to focus on other important aspects of your work.
  • Cost-effective: Our automated solution reduces the need for manual labor, saving your organization money in the long run.
  • Accurate: To ensure the accuracy of our AI-driven solutions, Invicta has a dedicated team of subject matter experts who support our technology. They work closely with the AI system, verifying and refining the output to ensure the alt text descriptions are accurate and descriptive.
Invicta™ can help you make your website and content more inclusive, allowing all users to engage with your content fully. Learn more about our image remediation solution and how it can benefit your organization today.

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Editors:

Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy
Continual Engine US LLC

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