The Alt Text Decision Tree [link]

A leaf-less tree in a field
This is not a decision tree.

I’ve written about the importance of text alternatives for accessibility and SEO in the past. Here’s the definition I used:

Alt text represents an image in any situation where it can’t be seen or displayed.

However, figuring out how to write an appropriate text alternative can be harder than it might seem:

  • In certain contexts like a link or form, the correct alternative text is specifically defined by the HTML specification.
  • In other settings, the appropriate verbosity of alt text is tricky.
  • If an image provides no additional “meaning”  alt text should be left blank (technically, “null”).

That’s why I think this decision tree for determining the appropriate text alternative for an image is so great!

The next time you aren’t sure how to handle alt text, check this out. If you scroll up a bit from the linked section of the document, you’ll find some nice reasons and best practices for alt text. This document is intended for developers, but the decision tree itself is fairly accessible so long as your read it slowly.

Image Credit: @Doug88888 via Flickr

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