Alternate Text for Images in Canvas

Alt Text

Images need accurate descriptions for students who rely on screen readers. Images that convey a lot of text should be avoided whenever possible, and descriptions should be presented to provide enough information within context of the topic. Keep in mind the context of the picture, which may change the scope of the needed description. 

Images should never start with “picture of” as the screen reader will identify it as an image.

Image Context

Image context will change based on the audience and what you want them to learn about the image. The same image could have different descriptions depending on its intent.

  • “Open book” – used as a metaphor or when referenced as an open book
  • “Open dictionary” 
  • “Red dictionary opened to the page that defines university” (if this is important to the context of the document, such as if they had to find this exact page in the dictionary).

Special Notes

  • Be sure to check that the image does not just have the file name in the alternate text area. For example: jordison.png might be the default value in the alt text area for an image – be sure to spot check all images to ensure that the file name did not get inserted.
  • Keep alternate text less than 100 characters. If there is more text needed – be sure to include it next to the image on the page.

What would the alternate text on this image be?

Michael Jackson Performance

“Michael Jackson performance” could be used as the alternate text, but I challenge you to write more appropriate alternate text. What if we flipped it and said this is for a Music History course – how might that change your alternate text? Below is another example as more detailed alternate text for the image.

“A 1980’s performance of Michael Jackson in Chicago Illinois performing the number one single Rock With You at a sold on venue. Michael is wearing his unique red sparkly jacket with white shoulders as he clutches his fist into the air.”


How to add Alternate Text

To add alternate text to an image, follow these steps:

Ensure your in edit mode

Select the edit button in the top right of the page.

Select Edit Button in the top right corner of the page

Select Image, and then select Embed Image button

Select Image, and then select Embed Image button

Select Image, and then select Embed Image button

Add Alt text and Select Update

Add alt text - and select update.

Mark as decorative only when the image has nothing to do with the context or content.

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