Text Equivalents for Graphics

Graphics such as illustrations, icons, photos, screenshots, and thumbnails all require text equivalents for use with assistive technologies. Each text equivalent should briefly identify the graphic and, if appropriate, describe any functionality that the image represents. The text equivalent must be brief, descriptive, and accurate. You need to include as much information as possible into the fewest number of characters without sacrificing intelligibility

9.4.1. Creating Text Equivalents

A text equivalent should describe the visual appearance of the graphic. The text equivalent can also include instructions on how to take an action, such as how to select options in a dialog. Ideally, a text equivalent provides the user with the same information as the original graphic. To find out how to implement text equivalents in your documentation, see the http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gdp/handbook.html.

9.4.2. Writing Good Text Equivalents

To comply with Part 1194.22 in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act: Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards, documentation must include a text equivalent for each graphic in documentation.

Follow these guidelines when you write text equivalents:

  • At a minimum, include the graphic content and the label of the item in the graphic. For example, "Run Application dialog."
  • If the contents of the graphic are not complex, describe the contents of the graphic. For example, "Run Application dialog. Contains command drop-down combination box, Browse button, Run in terminal check box. Contains Run, Cancel, Help buttons."
  • If the contents of the graphic are complex, summarize the contents of the graphic. For example, "Miscellaneous tabbed section. Contains controls to set miscellaneous Sawfish options. Contains Done, Cancel buttons."
  • If the order of use of elements in a graphic is not clear, describe the elements in top-to-bottom, left-to-right order.
  • If the graphic is annotated, list the callouts in order of the elements that are illustrated. This is not necessarily the same as the order in which the callouts appear. For example, "Crux window titlebar. Callouts: Window Menu button, Titlebar, Minimize, Maximize, Close Window buttons."