HTML is the acronym for Hypertext Mark-up Language and is utilised by web designers to build websites. Alt-Text is an HTML attribute used to describe the appearance and function of an image on a webpage. Adding alternative text to photos is first and foremost a principle of web accessibility. Vision-impaired users using screen readers will be read an alt attribute to understand an on-page image better. Websites designed with accessibility and inclusion in mind will have an Alt-Text description for every image. Sadly, this is often not the case for many websites.
Facebook Image AI
In the last few years, Facebook introduced an AI algorithm, which scans uploaded pictures and attempts to describe the contents of the image. While this AI algorithm works quite well, it can often give rudimentary descriptions or descriptions too vague to be useful.
Manual Alt-Text Editors for Facebook and Instagram.
Very recently, both Facebook and Instagram have added the option to add your own Alt-Text to images as you upload them. These new features allow social media users to be more conscious by giving them the ability to add “meaningful” descriptions of images they upload to these platforms thus creating an accessible image to share with family and friends with visual impairments.
Currently, Facebook only offers the Alt-text editor in the full website version. After selecting an image to upload and before publishing the photo to Facebook;
- Navigate to an edit option for the photo.
- Navigate to the Alt-Text option
- Navigate to the “Override generated Alt-Text button”. From there we can fill out a text field describing the image and select the save button.
- You will be brought back to the normal upload screen from where you can select the share button.
Instructions that are more detailed can’t be given at this time, as the feature could be different from one person’s set-up to another.
We hope to see this feature added to the mobile versions of the Facebook app in the future.
Instagram currently offer their text editor in their mobile app.
After the images are selected and you choose a filter before publishing there is an advanced setting feature that can be accessed. In these advanced settings, there is a “Write Alt-Text” section, which allows us to describe the image before posting to an Instagram account
We would hope going forward people are more mindful when sharing images to these social media platforms and consider adding a description that allows people with vision impairments access to images that you share.