Question: What is image alt text and why is it important for accessibility?


Image alt text (alternative text), sometimes referred to as 'alt attributes' or 'alt descriptions', is a principle of web accessibility. It's used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. The primary purpose of alt text is to provide equivalent access to information for individuals who cannot view images, such as users with visual impairments or those using screen readers.

Why Is Image Alt Text Important for Accessibility?

There are several reasons why including alt text in your website images is considered a best practice:

  1. Accessibility: As mentioned earlier, visually impaired users rely on screen reader technology that reads aloud web content. These screen readers rely on alt text to describe what an image portrays.

  2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Search engines like Google use alt text to understand what an image is about, which can improve your image search visibility.

  3. In Case of Loading Failure: If an image fails to load due to slow connection, error in the src attribute, or any other reason, the alt text will be displayed in its place.

Example of Alt Text in HTML

Here's how you would typically add alt text to an image in HTML:

<img src='image.jpg' alt='Description of image'>

In the above code, 'Description of image' should be replaced with a brief description of the image that conveys the same essential information as the image. If an image purely decorative and doesn't convey any essential information, it's common to still include the alt attribute, but leave it empty.

<img src='decorative-image.jpg' alt=''>

The key to effective alt text is ensuring it fulfills the function of the image within the context of your website. Balancing image accessibility with SEO considerations can have a significant positive impact on the overall success of your website.

Other Common Image Alt Questions (and Answers)

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