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Alternative text training resources

These alternative text training resources are part of Pope Tech’s Monthly Accessibility Focus topics. You can use them as-is or edit them to fit your needs.

We built these resources for anyone who’s an accessibility champion, whether that’s your official role or not. If you want to share accessibility ideas with your team or entire organization, these topics start with the basics and build to more intermediate ideas, so you and your team get what you need to know.

The alternative text training resources include:


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Resource to share

The main resource you can share with your team is Pope Tech’s Alternative text (alt text) article. This is already linked in the email text below, and you can get ideas for live or virtual training topics from it.

The article also links to our alternative text playlist, which is the video version of the content. These videos can be embedded in emails or used during training.

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Timeline

This suggested timeline includes when to send out emails and have training. You can customize this timeline by sending emails or holding training on days you know work best for your organization.

We recommend emails because people can get information quickly and review it on their own time, and the training because it’s a way to have a discussion and get people together.

First week of the month

Send an email introducing this month’s topic – alternative text.

Second or third week of the month

Have a training reviewing alternative text and introducing this month’s activity.

You could send an email invite and reminder for the training.

Right after training or the last week of the month

If you do a training, send a follow-up email 1-3 days after. Otherwise, just send an end-of-month email.

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Email text

These are the emails for the first week of the month and right after training or the last week of the month. Use them as-is or edit them as needed.

Email introducing alternative text topic and resource

Subject: Alternative text – what is it and how do you write it?

Email text:

More accessible websites or courses mean more people can use and learn from your content, which is why we’re sending monthly accessibility topics. Each month, take anywhere from 5 minutes skimming resources up to 60 minutes studying resources and attending a training. This month’s topic is alternative text.

Alternative text is used by people who use assistive technology to navigate the web. Put simply, it describes an image. But, taking 5 minutes to learn how to write great alternative text will make it so you’re actually writing helpful alternative text for people who use screen readers or other assistive technology.

We will also be hosting an alternative text training on [insert day, date] where we’ll go over [insert specific topics, alternative text examples, etc.]

Email right after training or last week of the month

Subject: Alternative text activity OR Alternative text campus-wide activity OR Alternative text team activity

Email text:

It was great to see everyone at this month’s training. If you weren’t able to attend, we hope to see you at the next one.

Whether you were at the training or not, take alternative text to the next level by actually doing something to improve your website’s or course’s experience for people using assistive technology.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. If you haven’t already, take 5 minutes to learn how to write great alternative text.
  2. Use the Canvas Accessibility Guide, Pope Tech Platform, or WAVE extension tool and scan for missing alternative text errors.
  3. BONUS: After fixing the errors, use your same tool to review alternative text features, which are images that have alternative text. Reviewing feature accessibility results is important because there can be alternative text that is written poorly. If you find any that can be improved, update them.

[Could insert video demo-ing the activity for the tool of your choice]

Hopefully, you feel more comfortable with writing alternative text. Next month we’ll continue reviewing accessibility with PDFs and non-HTML content.

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Training ideas

If you decide to hold a training, here are some ideas and resources to use.

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Alternative text activity

This activity is supposed to help improve accessibility by giving folks something specific they can go do. If you do a training, you can introduce it at the end of the training and again in the follow up email. Otherwise, you can just include the steps in the email.

To complete the activity, people should follow these steps:

  1. If you haven’t already, take 5 minutes to learn how to write great alternative text.
  2. Use the Canvas Accessibility Guide, Pope Tech Platform, or WAVE extension tool and scan for missing alternative text errors.
  3. BONUS: After fixing the errors, use your same tool to review alternative text features, which are images that have alternative text. Reviewing feature accessibility results is important because there can be alternative text that is written poorly. If you find any that can be improved, update them.

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Want to receive emails when each month’s accessibility focus is launched, and about other accessibility topics?

If you subscribe, we’ll email you web accessibility insights or things we learn a few times a month. You can unsubscribe at any time.


    Common questions

    What does a screen reader sound like when there’s no alt attribute?

    Some common screen readers are NVDA for Windows, Mac VoiceOver, and JAWS. Depending on the screen reader and the user’s settings, it could say different things. But, it’ll often read the image’s filename.

    This screen reader alt attribute accessibility test video has examples of images with no alt text using Mac VoiceOver and Chrome Vox.

    Can AI write alternative text?

    While AI has gotten better at identifying what is in images, we can’t rely on it to write alternative text because the purpose of the image matters.

    For more about why AI isn’t a solution for alternative text, check out AI Generated Alternative Text: Missing the Point of Context.

    How do I know if the image is decorative or not?

    Decorative images don’t add any content to the page. Ultimately, it’s up to the author whether the image is decorative or not.

    For more examples about whether alternative text is needed, check out WebAIM’s complete alternative text guide.

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