Describing Graphic Files for Students with Visual Impairments
Georgia Institute of Technology. Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access
Georgia Tech Research on Accessible Distance Education (GRADE)
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Graphic files are very commonly used in online distance education, whether as clip art in a Microsoft Word document, a chart in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, or as an illustration in an HTML document. Providing a text alternative for these graphic files provides students with visual impairments with an opportunity to have the same level of information as other students accessing these files. However, in preparing files with graphical information, instructors should strive to provide the appropriate amount of alternative information to accommodate students with disabilities. Providing too much information can cause a student to bog down in unnecessary details. Providing too little information can cause a student to miss important details. The goal should be to provide descriptions that are short, to the point, but that convey the same information that a student without a disability would have. Instructors can also choose to provide both short and long descriptions of graphic images. Long description links can be used in HTML files to provide information about complex images.