[Athen] Alt text for instructions with screenshots

Karlen Communications info at karlencommunications.com
Tue Sep 25 13:43:10 PDT 2018

Just a reminder not to start all of your Alt Text with "prefix text. We can
get a list of graphics using screen readers and starting all Alt text with
image of or photo of prevents us from finding an image quickly. For example,
in my previous example of "Font dialog in Word" I can use the letter F to
look for graphics whose Alt text begins with F. Screen readers are not only
used by people who are blind. Some people using screen magnification, or who
have learning, cognitive or print disabilities use screen readers.and some
Text-to-Speech tools may have a similar function for moving from graphic to

Cheers, Karen

From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf
Of chagnon at pubcom.com
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2018 3:59 PM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network'
<athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Alt text for instructions with screenshots

We create a lot of instruction materials, especially for software.

As long as the steps are detailed in the live body text and they give full
instructions about the action the user must perform, we then put "lite"
Alt-text on the screen capture itself.

Example: Body text instructions give detailed steps on how to bold text in
MS Word.

Alt-text on the accompanying screen capture could be: "Screen capture of how
to bold text as described in the body text."

All users need to have full instructions in the body text. But only sighted
users need the screen captures; the screen caps do little more than give a
way-finding visual to reassure sighted users that this is what the screen
should look like.

They, and all other users, should still get the detailed instructions from
the body text, not the graphic which often is too small, fuzzy, or difficult
to see fine details.

If the instructions are repeated on the screen capture as well as in the
body text, then you run the risk of having redundant information.and that's
a royal pain to those using screen readers.

-Bevi Chagnon

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Bevi Chagnon, founder/CEO | Bevi at PubCom.com <mailto:Bevi at PubCom.com>

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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 10:20 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

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

Georgia Gwinnett College | 1000 University Center Lane| Lawrenceville, GA

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