Images & Graphics

Images and graphics are a great way to represent content in a visual way. However, since it is a visual medium, images and graphics can present barriers to individuals who need to access content in non-visual ways. It is important to carefully consider images and how they are effectively represented and made accessible.   

Opportunities and Challenges 

Accessibility opportunities  

  • Students collaborate at a table
    Images and graphics are a great way to include multiple representations.  
  • Images and graphics can include alt-text on most social media platforms, in documents, and on websites.  
  •  When images and graphics are embedded within other types of media, a more detailed description can be included.  
  • Decorative images can be marked as decorative to avoid unnecessary screen reader confusion.  

Accessibility challenges 

  • Complicated images and graphics can be very challenging to make fully accessible.  
  • Not all images and graphics can be made accessible.  
  • Alt-text needs to be concise but meaningful. 
  • Can’t always add alt-text for a video thumbnail.  

Learn More about Accessible Images & Graphics

While there are many resources about how to create images and graphics more generally, there are fewer resources on how to effectively create accessible images and graphics. As discussed in the suggestions, there are particular considerations that must be taken within the planning process, as well as within remediation. 

A Note about Using GIFs  

GIFs (Graphical Interchange Format files) are a very popular way to quickly share animated/moving content. Often GIFs are only a few seconds long and the intent is to convey a message quickly. GIFs are also used to repeat a key concept. GIFs, however, can be difficult to make accessible. Notably GIFs often do not have an option for alt-texts, do not have sound support, and generally cannot be controlled by the user. With that said, GIFs can be made to be more accessible and can be effect if appropriately formatted.  

Images & Graphics Suggestions

  • Implement the accessibility essentials  
    • Alternative text – Always ensure that images have alt-text included. Most platforms allow for alt-text to be added quickly and easily.  
    • Accessible tables and charts – Ensure that tables and charts are not posted as “images”, but rather have the appropriate navigation and structure.  
    • Clear language – Alt-text should be written in a clear and concise way that reflects the context and purpose of the image.  
  • Always include alt-text and image descriptions   
  • Avoid wrapping text around an image  

  • Avoid text over an image, but if the image contains text, always include the specific text of the image.  
  • Simplify graphics when possible.   
  • Avoid using non-essential graphics or images. 
  • Consider multiple representations when possible

  • Always include alt-text if the option is available.  
  • Avoid GIFs that have an infinite loop.  
  • Ensure GIFs are short and concise.  
  • Avoid blinking or flashing.  
  • Consider whether an embedded video will be equally effective (you can build in more accessibility features to a video).