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Alt Text

What Is Alt Text?

Simple Explanation of Alt Text

Alt text, short for “alternative text,” is like a helpful description added to an image on a website or in a document. It’s used when someone can’t see the image – maybe because they’re visually impaired and use a screen reader (a tool that reads out what’s on the screen), or if the image doesn’t load properly. The alt text tells them what’s in the picture. For example, if there’s an image of a dog playing in a park, the alt text might say “A happy dog playing fetch in a sunny park.” It’s important because it makes sure everyone, regardless of their ability to see the image, knows what it’s about.

Technical Explanation of Alt Text

Alt text, or alternative text, is an attribute applied to image tags in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) to provide a textual alternative to visual content. It plays a crucial role in web accessibility, particularly for users who rely on screen readers due to visual impairments. Screen readers read out the alt text to provide context for the image, thereby ensuring that the content is accessible to all users, regardless of their ability to visually perceive images.

From a technical standpoint, the alt attribute is added within the <img> tag in HTML. This attribute should concisely describe the image’s content and function. For example, <img src="dog.jpg" alt="A black Labrador retriever sitting on grass"> provides a clear, descriptive text for the image. The use of alt text also benefits Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as it allows search engines to better understand the image content, contributing to more accurate indexing and search relevance.

In scenarios where an image is purely decorative and does not convey meaningful content, a blank alt attribute (alt=””) is recommended to indicate that the image can be safely ignored by screen readers. This practice is part of adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), ensuring that web content is accessible to a wider range of users with disabilities.

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