Welcome to our series of posts entitled: how to make your website accessible! In the first post we discussed the ethical and legal reasoning for why accessibility is important.
Today we focus on adding alternative text to images.
Tips for success
It’s a good idea to add images to posts because it drives readers to your site. But how do we make the image work for everyone?
Imagine the pre-smart phone days. You’ve found an image from your days in Brownie Scouts and want to show your best friend. But she lives six hours away. You could make a copy of the photograph and mail it to her, but you can’t wait! So, you call her up on your landline and tell her about the photo. Similarly, alt text is like describing an image so that the website visitor can understand its meaning.
How much should you say? Here are specific ideas to consider while writing alternative text. Don’t begin the text with the words “an image” or “a photo.” Don’t repeat the caption because it is redundant. Do briefly describe the image.
If you post to a Missouri State blog, you use the blogging platform WordPress. This is how you add alt text within your Missouri State blog.
When updating your website
Missouri State webpages are maintained on Web Press. To add images to your site, upload it or select the image in the Asset Manager. You will have the option to add the caption. This is used as the alt text in Web Press.
How to know if you are successful?
To determine whether your site meets accessibility standards, enter the address into a web accessibility site like WAVE. Find the alt tag on images within the results. If it is green the alternative text is sufficient. If it is yellow it needs attention; it might be too long or too short. If it is red you need to add text.
During the Collaborative Diversity Conference, you can learn to take part in expanding diversity networks and creating a statewide community for enhanced recruitment and retention of underrepresented professionals, faculty and students. This is a two-day event with a pre-conference screening of American Textures designed to showcase industry-specific best practices in cultural competence, intervention, pedagogy and research.
What: Collaborative Diversity Conference
When: April 20-21, 2017; pre-conference April 19
Where: Plaster Student Union, Missouri State University
Help us spread the word about the Collaborative Diversity Conference to the Missouri State University and local communities by sharing it on social media.
If you attend the event, we want to hear about your experience! We encourage you to join the online conversation during the Collaborative Diversity Conference by posting about it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tagging your posts with the official hashtag: #Diversity17.
Make your post social media savvy
Tag the post with the official Collaborative Diversity Conference hashtag: #Diversity17
Sharing about the Collaborative Diversity Conference on Facebook allows for some additional customization. The sample posts provide content recommendations based on our best practice tips for optimizing link sharing on Facebook.
We’re looking for a smart, involved Missouri State student who wants a career in social media marketing.
If that sounds like you, apply now to become a new media specialist intern with the office of web and new media. In the fall 2017 semester, you’ll get to work with the people who run social media for the university and alumni association.
Our intern will gain valuable experience in real-world settings and walk away with several benefits:
A professional portfolio that includes at least two social media campaigns, four blog posts and two visuals
An insider’s access to best practices about social media, writing and website content development
An opportunity to display skills in a professional setting, which will place the intern’s resume above their peers’
Interested? Let’s tell you more about what kind of a person we’re looking for.
We want someone who loves social media and engaging with people, because you will develop social media campaigns for university platforms including Missouri State Facebook and Twitter.
We’re also looking for versatile storytellers, so you’ll be able to write content for university blogs, edit photos and interview newsmakers.
You’ll get the behind-the-scenes access to major university events such as Commencement, Homecoming and Fountain Day.
We also give you the keys to MissouriState.edu. You’ll update photos, videos and text as needed on university websites.
As the new media specialist intern, you will get the chance to contribute to a variety of university projects.
Your inside access starts with two half-day training sessions during the first week of fall semester classes. Plus, you’ll also receive continued training exercises in weekly meetings.
Desired skills and experience
You must be a currently enrolled student at Missouri State. Additionally, if you’re pursuing a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, public relations, journalism or related areas, that’s ideal.
You need to have demonstrated knowledge of AP style, social media marketing and photography and videography. But above all, you need to be a strong writer. We’d also love to have someone who knows photo editing and basic knowledge of Web best practices.
The internship requires some evening and weekend work, and you must be able to work at computer workstations for extended periods of time. Additionally, applicants must have visual and audio acuity within normal ranges.
You must also be committed to working with our diverse student and community populations.
Applying for the job
If you’re in, email us an application to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re accepting them from March 16-April 12. In addition, you’ll need to provide the following:
The 2017 Public Affairs Conference theme is Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Perspectives on Self-Government. The conference will help all of us talk about our rights and responsibilities as citizens in a modern democracy.
What: Public Affairs Conference
When: April 4-7, 2017
Where: Plaster Student Union and Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts at Missouri State
Who: Plenary speakers, guest artists and presenters
No tickets required
All events are free and open to the public
Share your story
Help us discuss the Public Affairs Conference by sharing it on social media. Posts with the #CitizenBear hashtag will be pulled to the #CitizenBear Tagboard.
Make your post social media savvy
Tag your posts with the official Public Affairs Conference hashtag, #CitizenBear
As an institution that receives federal funding, we must comply with these federal regulations. But more importantly, developing accessible content is the right thing to do.
It is essential that the Web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with diverse abilities. Indeed, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes access to information and communications technologies, including the web, as a basic human right.
Accessibility supports social inclusion for people with disabilities as well as others, such as older people, people in rural areas, and people in developing countries.
Also, following these guidelines can improve the search engine optimization of your website. Many of the accessibility techniques overlap with SEO best practices, so your website will be better understood by search engines and possibly ranked higher in search results.
What does this mean for me as a website developer?
If you’re using Web Press, then many of the accessibility checkpoints will be handled by the overall templates. However, you need to ensure that the content you add to your website is also accessible. Below are some key areas that you should review:
Write meaningful text alternatives
Each image on your website much have a meaningful text equivalent:
Describe the image (like you would to someone over the phone).
Use true headings (not bold or other styling) within your conent to break up blocks of text. This provides a way for everyone to more easily scan your content and find what they need.
Additionally, use lists to break up the text on your website. Not only do they help structure the distinct items, but they also can help highlight important content.
Write link text that makes sense out of context and describes the destination
When you add links to your website content, the name of the link is critical. Try to describe the destination of the link; a user should know where the link goes without having to read the surrounding content for context. Also, avoid using generic labels like “learn more” or “click here” as they lack specificity.
Mark the headers of data tables
First, only use tables for data (like you would use in a spreadsheet). Do not use tables to lay out content; Web Press offers columns for design options.
Second, when you have a data table, ensure there are marked header rows that describe each column/row of content.
Use color wisely
Make sure the color contrast of your text and the background are high to maximize readability. The accessibility guidelines require a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for more content. The only way to judge this is through a color contrast checker, where the two color values are compared.
Also don’t use color as the only way to convey information. Make sure the information is provided in another way, usually via text. The WebAim Color-blindness article provides some context and possible solutions.
What tools are available to assess website accessibilty?
There are many free tools that can help you improve the accessibility of your website: