Figures alternate text

If an image is not just for decoration, it must have alternate text. If an image is purely for decoration, you must mark it as an artifact to ensure that it does not show up in the tags tree.

To add alternative text to an image:

  • In the Accessibility Checker panel, right-click and select "Fix" from the Options menu. In the Set Alternate Text dialog box, enter alternate text for each figure or check the box if the figure is purely decorative. Click the next arrow to add alternate text to the next image. Once you've finished adding alternate text and marking images as alternate text, click "Save & Close" to save your changes.

A user adds alternate text to a figure using Adobe Acrobat Pro's Accessibility tool.

  • Using the Reading Order tool, right-click the image's tag type or reading order number in the top left-hand corner of the figure and select "Edit Alternate Text" from the Options menu to add alternate text. If an image is decorative, click the image's tag type or reading order number and click the "Background/Artifact" button in the Reading Order dialog box to mark the image as an artifact.

A user adds alternate text to a figure using Adobe Acrobat Pro's Reading Order tool.

If a document contains an image of a complex graph or chart, it is best to add alternate text that summarizes the trend that the data shows, makes the data easier to understand and/or provides insturctions on how the data should be reviewed.

Nested alternate text

Screen readers don't read alternate text for nested elements. According to Adobe, alternate text to elements that have children elements (unless the alternate text covers the content for these elements as well).

To remove alternate text from nested elements, Adobe instructs users to open "View" followed by "Show/Hide," "Navigation Panes" and then "Tags." Right-click a nested element in the Tags panel and choose "Properties" from the context menu. Remove the alternate text and the text that it is applied to from the Object Properties dialog box. Click "Close."

Associated with content

Alternate text must always be an alternate representation for content on the page. If an element has alternate text, but doesn't contain any page content, there's no way for users to determine what page it is on. If a user enables the Screen Reader Option in the Reading preferences, and it is not set to read the full document, screen readers will never read the alternate text.

To fix this issue, Adobe instructs users to right-click an item to check it. Then, open "View" followed by "Show/Hide," "Navigation Panes" and then "Tags." Remove alternate text from the Tags panel for any nested item that does not have any page content.

Hides annotation

Alternate text cannot hide an annotation. Screen readers will not see an annotation nested under a parent element. 

To fix this issue, Adobe instructs users to open "View" followed by "Show/Hide," "Navigation Panes" and then "Tags." Right-click on a nested element in the Tags panel and choose "Properties" from the context menu. Remove the alternate text from the Object Properties dialog box and click "OK."

Other elements alternate text

Other elements including multimedia and annotations may require alternate text. As with all alternate text, you should be sure that it is an accurate alternate representation for the content or image.

To add alternative text to an element:

  • In the Accessibility Checker panel, right-click and select "Fix" from the Options menu. In the Set Alternate Text dialog box, enter alternate text for each figure or check the box if the figure is purely decorative. Click the next arrow to add alternate text to the next image. Once you've finished adding alternate text and marking images as alternate text, click "Save & Close" to save your changes.
  • Using the Reading Order tool, right-click the image's tag type or reading order number in the top left-hand corner of the figure and select "Edit Alternate Text" from the Options menu to add alternate text. If an image is decorative, click the image's tag type or reading order number and click the "Background/Artifact" button in the Reading Order dialog box to mark the image as an artifact.

WCAG requirement: 1.1.1 Non-text Content