[Athen] Alt text for instructions with screenshots

Ana Thompson thomana at uw.edu
Tue Sep 25 11:06:29 PDT 2018

If the instructions both for mouse and keyboard use are already explain, describing again in the alt text would be duplicating information, which is not the purpose. In some cases when I develop tutorials and instructions with images, I use the recommendations that Karen addressed. Other times, especially in an interface that allows for images to be marked as decorative and ignored, I mark images as such, making sure all of the information was shared in the surrounding text and none of the meaning is lost. As Robert alluded to, having the image brings UDL principles into practice, in this case, offering content in different formats, whether that is to promote understanding (2.4), or customizing the display of information (1.1) among others.

Ana :-]

Ana Thompson, MIS, CPACC
Learning & Access Designer

Office of Digital Learning & Innovation (DLI)
University of Washington Bothell - LBA 204E
NWeLearning Comm.<http://nwelearn.org/> Chair
NW/MET<http://nwmet.org/> Emeritus Board Member

Ask me about UW IT Accessibility Liaison Program<https://www.uwb.edu/digital-learning/udal/uwb-itals>
Universal Design for Active Learning<http://www.uwb.edu/learningtech/universal-design-for-active-learning> – A UW Bothell Initiative

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> on behalf of Karlen Communications <info at karlencommunications.com>
Reply-To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 10:27 AM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network' <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Alt text for instructions with screenshots

I use the Alt Text as something supporting what my tutorials are presenting. For example, if I have the step by step instructions on how to change a font size using the Font dialog, the Alt Text for the image would be “Font dialog showing Font Size options” and I would put focus on the Font Size settings part of the dialog when doing the screen image. Sometimes I just use “Font dialog” when I’ve given a step-by-step overview of the Font dialog settings.

Cheers, Karen

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Robert Beach
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2018 10:45 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Alt text for instructions with screenshots

Alt text has a purpose which is to give the information provided by the image. I would not change this. Rather, I would add the keycommands to the general instructions since people without disabilities may wish to use them as well. Usually key commands can be more efficient than mousing everything. This is more in line with universal design.

Robert Lee Beach
Assistive Technology Specialist
Kansas City Kansas Community College
7250 State Avenue
Kansas City, KS 66112
Phone: 913-288-7671
Email: rbeach at kckcc.edu<mailto:rbeach at kckcc.edu>

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu>> On Behalf Of Christine Robinson
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2018 9:20 AM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: [Athen] Alt text for instructions with screenshots

Hi all –

For our campus, I’m tasked with creating instructions for various elements in Office 365. Obviously, I want to make the instructions accessible - and I haven’t dealt with this kind of thing before.

My instructions include steps such as (for example) “In the upper left corner of the Office 365 window, click the icon for the App Launcher,” followed by a screenshot with the icon circled.

It seems like the alt text should not be a description of the screenshot, however. I suspect a screen reader user doesn’t really care what the icon looks like. Since alt text is supposed to convey the same information that a sighted user would obtain from an image, it makes sense to me that the alt text should offer instructions on how to accomplish the same result using keyboard commands.

For example, if my text instructions say, “in the upper left corner, click the icon…” perhaps the alt text for the image should say something like, “Tab to the icon for the App Launcher.” ???

So my questions for you all are:

1. Is it correct that, in this case, alt text should provide instructions on how to navigate to the icon instead of a description of the image?

2. Where can I find more instructions re. using Office 365 features via keyboard commands? I’ve searched on the Microsoft site but haven’t succeeded in finding anything.


Christine Robinson | Technical Trainer/Writer | Center for Teaching Excellence
Georgia Gwinnett College | 1000 University Center Lane| Lawrenceville, GA 30043

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