Accessibility Group Update No. 1

We’ve only just begun  

This is the first of the Disability group updates. There’s so much going on in the world of accessibility, we thought it would be a good idea to start blogging about it! We aim to keep you updated with the work of the group and anything else of interest. We encourage you to join in an ongoing conversation, and share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions with us in the comments below. 

That’s not my name…  

You may have already noticed that we have changed the name of the Additional Needs library guide to Accessibility. One of the Group’s first tasks was to choose a name that was more reflective of inclusivity and facilitated better discoverability of the content. ‘Accessibility’ puts the emphasis on what the library service is offering, rather than on how an individual may or may not identify. We are working on further improvements to the guide over summer and beyond. 

Picture this

Don’t forget to add alt text to any images you are using online (this includes webpages, documents, social media and emails – including any important images in your email signature). A good description conveys the meaning of the image to people who cannot see it. 

Be concise, accurate and factual and describe the focus of the image. The alt text you write will also depend on the type of image you have used and its context to the information on the page. 

  • If your image is decorative – you can leave the alt text field empty.  
  • An image which is also a link? The alt text should describe the link destination or function. 
  • Got an image with text in it? Transcribe the text (if it’s not already transcribed in surrounding text or captions)!

Not sure what type of image you have? Check the alt text decision tree for guidance. 

Be careful not to include anything in the alt-text which is not relevant or is not conveyed by the image. The alt text is not to be used for jokes or Easter eggs for sighted users.

Need some inspiration? 

The alt-text descriptions on the NASA Webb Telescope Twitter account are a great example of accessible scientific communication. 

We also like this thread on writing alt text for Twitter by @RobotHugsComic which refers to some more examples you may come across when writing alt-text for social media. 

Our very own Dita has been writing some great alt text for the @CityUniLibrary twitter account.  Her top tips are: 

Alt text doesn’t need to be a clinical record of every single element that’s visible in the image, just think what the most important bits are. The tone of the description doesn’t have to be super formal either if that isn’t the tone of the rest of your post. One of my favourite Twitter accounts that excels at alt text, is @dog_rates, where they post funny pictures of dogs, with alt text conveying emotion and describing the dogs’ facial expressions in a humorous way:

Unfortunately the visible alt text labels do not show when embedded in WordPress. Click through to Twitter to read them, or better still, use a screen reader to hear alt text as charming as the image. Was it what you expected?

We hope this has given you some food for thought, but please do get in touch if you have alt text examples you would like to work through together. 

Welcome to my world … 

The Accessibility group would like to invite you our summer training session, on Accessibility Awareness. With a focus on empathy, we will cover the ways you can support students, whatever your role in the library team and discuss the broader topics of disability, access and inclusion. Find out more and sign up. 

Please read me  

Here are some things the Group have been reading about:  

Will you be booking tickets to see ‘All of Us’? Have you read, seen or heard any interesting stories about accessibility lately? Is there anything you’d like us to include in the next blog post? Don’t forget to comment below! 

The Accessibility Group (Felicity, Jay, Jessica, Johnathan, Richard and Stefanie).

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