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Office of IDEAS

Add Meaningful Alt Text to Images that Convey Meaning

Without alt text, images will not be “visible” to individuals using assistive technology to view course materials. Make it a regular practice to include alt text on photos that convey information. 

Alternative text should present the content and function, not necessarily a description, of an image. If you had to remove the image, what text would you put in its place? Images that have no meaning can be marked as decorative, which means that a screen reader will skip them.

Some images will be too complex to convey in alt text (i.e. a complex chart or graph). In these instances, consider creating a long text description and posting the image on a word document with long text rather than uploading the image by itself to Canvas.

Adding Alt Text in Google Suite (Docs and Slides)

Adding Alt Text in Microsoft 

Adding Alt Text to Images on Canvas

  1. Look for a red or orange Accessibility Score next to an image. This indicates the image needs your attention. It will appear as a dial at the bottom left of the image.
  2. In Canvas, click on the Pages course menu in the course navigation.
    Canvas course page with one arrow pointing to a red accessibility score indicator for an image on a page, a red box highlighting the Pages link in the navigation menu and one arrow pointint to the Edit button to launch the rich content editor
  3. Use Canvas' Rich Content Editor to fix the page, Click on the Edit button on the top right of the Page.
  4. Click on the image within the page, then select Image Options. 
    The image with the red accessibility score has been clicked and the "Image options" button is available to click
  5. Add the ALT Description in the (A) ALT Text box OR click on (B) Decorative Image box (if the image is decorative). 
    The image options view with settings to add alt text or mark the image as decorative and other settings for how the image is displayed on the page.
  6. Scroll down and choose the Done button. 
  7. At the bottom of the Page, click on the Save button (bottom right).

Alt text for Images not in Pages

For Images not located in Pages, you can use Ally to locate images that need Alt text in your course. This alt text will not transfer when you copy the course.

  1. To find images in your course that need Alt text: Enable the Accessibility Report for your course in Canvas to identify images that need alt text. 
  2. From the Ally, Accessibility Report click on the Accessibility Report course menu (left).
  3. Click on the View button under All Course Content.
    Canvas Accessibility Report interface with the Accessibility Report link in the Navigation menu highlighted and the "View" button highlighted
  4. Look for the images (png, jpg, gif), and click on the Score Dial on the right of the image.
    Accessibility report interface showing a list of filenames and types and the associated accessibility score percentage and dial for each
  5. Add the ALT Description in the (A) Add image description box OR click on (B) Indicate image is Decorative button if the image is decorative. Decorative images do not convey meaning and will not be recognized by assistive technologies.
    The Ally interface for an individual image file with the alt text box filled
    Alt text provided for an image with Ally

    Ally interface for an image file with the alt-text box empty and a marker showing where to indicate the image is decorative
    Alt text is not needed for a decorative image. Decorative images do not provide the context or information needed to understand the information provided in the course materials.
  6. Click on the Close button.