Universal Access: Adding Alt Text to Images in Microsoft Office

The process for adding Alt Text to an image is the same throughout Microsoft Office. I’ll demonstrate this process using Microsoft Word.

Locate the image you’d like to add alt text to and select it (left mouse click). If you’re using JAWS, use Ctrl + Shift + O to open the objects menu and find the image there. Keep in mind this image presumably won’t have good alt text, so you’ll have to work with whatever is there.

Open the context menu for the image with the right mouse click, the context key, or use Shift + F10.

On the context menu, select Format Picture.

Screen shot of Windows 7 computer running Microsoft Word 2013 showing the open context menu for a selected image

This will open the Format Object Pane which can be found as a side menu on the right side of the screen. This pane has four tabs: Fill in Line (paint can icon), Effects (pentagon icon), Layout and Properties (square with measure lines icon), and Picture (portrait icon). Select Layout and Properties.

If you’re using JAWS, use tab to navigate through the tabs and tab controls. Tabs are only differentiated from controls by JAWS by their instructions – JAWS will announce that you can “navigate with left and right, up and down arrow keys”.

Screen clip of Word 2013 Format Object Pane with the Layout and Properties tab open and Alt Text section expanded and blank

Expand the Alt Text button with a left mouse click or by pressing space bar. Fill out the title and description fields. The title field seems to have a character limit of about 70, but the description field is seemingly limitless. Be as verbose as necessary in the description field to do your best to describe the image and convey to the reader any visual information that it conveys.

When you’re done, simply close the Format Object Pane by left mouse clicking the x in the corner, or simply return to your document by pressing escape. You can move back and forth between your document, the ribbon, and the Format Object Pane by pressing F6.

 

 

 

 

Important JAWS Commands

Open the Objects List Ctrl + Shift + O
Open Context Menu Shift + F10
Navigate between ribbon, document, and open panes F6

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