Bb Mailbag: Making Your Course Images Accessible With Alt Text


Welcome to the Blackboard Mailbag, where we feature a commonly asked question that has been hitting our mailbox recently: You’ll find an archive of all of the previous questions and answers on our website.  

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Q:  Why does Bb prompt me to add alternative text to an image?

Making Your Course Images Accessible With Alt Text

As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that all course materials are accessible to all our students. After all, some students may make us aware of their disabilities, but not all will. 

One simple way to improve accessibility is by adding alternative text (commonly called “alt text”) to images used in your course.

What is alt text and why does it matter? 

Alt text is a brief text description of an image that is invisible on the page but can be read by screen readers for blind users. For example, if you post a photo of the campus library, the alt text would say “Photo of the campus library exterior.” Without alt text, blind students may miss out on key information communicated visually.

Adding alt text ensures students using assistive technologies like screen readers can equitably access the images you share. Alt text also helps search engines understand images, improving the discoverability of your materials. For universal design, alt text benefits all students by putting visuals into words.

Adding alt text is easy within Blackboard or any online content editor. Simply edit the image properties and enter a concise description in the alt text field. Note: avoid cluttered descriptions – the goal is to concisely convey the core content. If the image is especially relevant to the course material, perhaps state outright what you want them to walk away with from the image. 

Making alt text part of our routine course prep promotes inclusion and shows students we are committed to their success. We all benefit from content that is accessible and designed for diversity. With small steps like alt text, we can work together to create a course environment that enables equal participation.

Helpful Links:

How To: Write Good Alt Text | Supercool

For more about creating alternative text for an image, visit the Bb Instructor guide on this topic.


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