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How to add alternate text to images?

Authors note: This is a re-published post due to an unavoidable technical issue.

In continuation to our post <alt> Campaign: Let’s make images on the web accessible, here are a few tips on how to add alternate text on different platforms.

In all platforms, ensure that your alternate text is meaningful.

Add alternate text in HTML Code

After writing image source, add <alt> attribute to include alternate text of the image. Example code:

For informative images: <img src=”place image source here” alt=”This is alternate text for given image”>

For active images: <a href=”link address”><img src=”Place image source here” alt=”This is alternate text for this image link”></a>

For decorative images:<img src=”Place image source here” alt=””> Leaving an empty alt attribute will ask screen readers to ignore that image. But if we do not use alt attribute at all, then screen reader would possibly pick relevant information such as image’s file name as alternate text and expose to the user which doesn’t makes sense.

For CSS rendered background images: If those are just for decorative purpose, no worries but if background images are informative, then bring them to foreground and provide a meaningful alternate text.

Add alternate text to social media

Most of the social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Google+ etc., has an option to add description while uploading an image. Even if we are uploading an image album, there is an option to describe each image. All we need to do is to make sure to use this feature and describe those images we post. That not only helps our connects with disabilities but also someone who have knowledge about the location we are posting about etc.,

OK… let’s continue to make images accessible!

Uber India launches UberAccess and UberAssist in partnership with MphasiS

October seem to be a month for service providers to think of making their services accessible to people with disabilities. Earlier this week, we have witnessed launch of Shopping Assist program by Big Bazar and today, Uber India has launched UberAccess and UberAssist initiatives at Bengaluru, India in partnership with MphasiS. Some details:

Mphasis Corporate Social Responsibility and Uber initiative aims to provide convenient, reliable and
affordable rides for senior citizens and people with accessibility needs
• uberACCESS, an Asia-first launch for Uber in Bengaluru offers 50 retrofitted vehicles, sponsored by
Mphasis, with heightened roof and hydraulic wheelchair lift on-demand
• uberASSIST, a fleet of 500 vehicles are designed to provide additional assistance to senior citizens and
people with accessibility needs
• All uberACCESS and uberASSIST driver partners have been trained and certified by Diversity and Equal
Opportunity Centre (DEOC)

This would surely be helpful and make travel more convenient to people with disabilities and others who need a bit of assistance. We hope eventually UberAssist becomes a natural and default component of all partner drivers.

Read more details about this initiative (PDF)

It’s worth mentioning that MphasiS has been an organization that support and promoted several inclusion projects such as this. In fact, MphasiS has promoted KickStart Cabs that happened to be first accessible taxi service in India a few years ago.

Way to go!

Campaign: Make currency of India and digital payment apps accessible

Authors note: This is a re-published post due to an unavoidable technical issue.

Money is important to everyone; It’s essential that everyone needs to be able to identify their own money. Whether we like it or not, not everyone in this world are wise; though we wish!

A few years ago, 5 paisa, 10 paisa, 20 paisa, 25 paisa, 50 paisa, INR 1, INR 2 and INR 5 coins are very easy to identify with unique shape; same was the case with currency notes too due to uniqueness in size. Off late almost all of Indian coins are of same size and there is no shape difference. As a result, often causes confusion. Not only to people with disabilities, I have noticed my own family members got confused between 50 paisa and INR 5 coins! It was habit for people to just feel size of coins and recognize; now that has changed, it causes a lot of difficulty.

I urge the Reserve Bank of India to take necessary steps and make Indian currency accessible to everyone including people with disabilities.

Even today there is a lot of encouragement to use digital payments like BHIM app, electronic trasnfers, electronic wallets etc., But none of them are really accessible to people with disabilities. I would also urge all vendors of these applications to make their apps accessible and comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

Blind Graduates’ Forum of India has started a campaign on to push government to make this happen. Do please sign to support the cause.

Let’s spread this word to all relevant departments, app vendors and bring attention of everyone.

<alt> Campaign: Let’s make images on the web accessible

Authors note: This is re-published post due to an unavoidable technical issue.

A picture speaks several words. Use of images over the internet is increasing everyday. It’s essential they are make accessible to all users and technologies. Benefits of making images accessible are:

  • Information conveyed through images is made available to blind and visually impaired users
  • Information is made available to those users who turns off images in the browser
  • Information is made available to those users who may not be able to load images due to poor connectivity
  • Search engines cannot read images; no matter how beautiful those images are

Today images are used on the websites, social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, blogs and almost every platform over the internet. These images carry a lot of information; hence it’s important to make these images accessible.
Here is what 1.1.1 Non-text content talks about:

1.1.1 Non-text Content: All non-text content that is presented to the user has a text alternative that serves the equivalent purpose. (Level A)

If images do not have alternate text, screen readers often try and read associated text based information such as path of image file or link destination if image is a hyperlinked. A few things to be kept in mind about alternate text:

  • Alternate text must be meaningful
  • Alternate text should not be too long. If information needs to be described in length, then one should use <longdesc> attribute must be used
  • Background images should be used only for decorative purpose; if those images are informative, then those images must be brought to foreground and provide appropriate <alt> attribute
  • Decorative images must be provided with emplty alt attribute – i.e. <alt=””>

Through this next one month, let’s practice and propagate the following:

  • If we find images on any website, let’s write to those companies and have them fix it
  • If you are a web developer / website owner, identify images on your website / app, fix if they do not have alternate text
  • Let’s avoid posting text embedded on to an image
  • Whatever we post on social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc., let’s be sure to add text description

If you have fixed something to this effect or if you are able to convince someone doing it, leave a comment here to acknowledge the effort.

Let’s make images accessible!

JAWS 2018 has been released by Freedom Scientific

Authors note: Please note that this is a republished post due to some unavoidable technical issue.

Freedom Scientific has just released its popular screen reader software JAWS (Job Access With Speech) version 2018. Here is a quick summary of what’s new in this version.

  • Change in version numbering. Until now, JAWS used to have numbering with single and then two digits kile JAWS 7, 8, 10, 11 and so on… With this version, JAWS has adopted version numbering based on year. But I’m not sure why this is named as “2018” and not “2017”; perhaps the reason could be its immediate past version is JAWS 18
  • JAWS 2018 now supports Microsoft Edge browser. While there are still several JAWS features that are not available in Edge such as selecting and copying using the Virtual Cursor, PlaceMarkers, Smart Navigation, Flexible Web, and domain-specific settings, they have made the overall experience of navigating pages in Edge using both speech and braille as similar as possible to working in Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox.As you begin using Edge, one important item to note is that Edge is a Modern app with no menu bar that can be accessed using the ALT key. To access Edge specific features, press TAB from the bottom of a page or SHIFT+TAB from the top. Continue using TAB or SHIFT+TAB to move through the various controls until you cycle back around to the content area. Alternatively, Edge offers many of the same shortcut keys found in other browsers such as CTRL+T to open a new tab, CTRL+H for History, CTRL+I for Favorites, CTRL+J for Downloads, and so on.
  • The Convenient OCR (Optical Character Recognition) feature, which enables you to recognize the text of inaccessible PDF documents opened in Adobe Reader or the text of images on the screen, has been expanded to support the recognition of image files as well as images captured by Freedom Scientific’s PEARL® reading camera or a flatbed scanner.
  • All new installer – The JAWS installation process has been completely redesigned to take advantage of the latest technology. The setup process has been streamlined with fewer dialogs and offers faster download and installation of various components. The installer is now also self-voicing, no longer using a run-time version of JAWS. If you happen to be running an older version of JAWS while installing 2018, the self-voicing of the install will remain silent, allowing you to use your previous version of JAWS to speak during setup.
  • New verbosity options for the virtual cursor
  • Support for Microsoft Mobile Voices in Windows 10
  • Updated Liblouis Braille Translator
  • Option for Moving to Any Link Added to Navigation Quick Key Manager
  • “Document and Web Pages Automatically Read when Loaded” Option Added to Settings Center
  • User can now press CTRL+APOSTROPHE or CTRL+SEMICOLON in Google Docs to move to the next or previous misspelled word in a document.
  • Acronym Expansion Included When Spelling a Word
  • Improvements to JAWS Language Switching

If you purchased JAWS 18 after September 1, 2017, you can download the JAWS 2018 release for free from the Freedom Scientific website. To verify if you are entitled to the current version, visit the SMA and Upgrade Pricing page and enter your serial number.

It’s good to see some major feature upgrade to the JAWS after a while.

Big Bazar launches comfortable shopping experiences to people with disabilities: My experience

Big Bazar has launched an initiative to provide wonderful shopping experience to people with disabilities and we have just visited to its store in Koramangala, Bangalore. It was an awesome experience and definitely a good beginning to their journey of inclusive shopping experience. Here is our experience.

Their assistance program web page has a form where customer needs to fill in  a form choosing city, location, date and time slot of choice. On submission, we have received a text message and email confirming our request to visit the store. Email was also stated that an Accessibility Champion will get in touch with us shortly, but in our case it did not happen.

We have called up the store; operator said she did not have complete information about the initiative but she was aware something special is happening in the store; she has provided me with the hand phone number of store Manager. He was indeed aware of the initiative and keen to have us at their store.

When we have visited the store, we have called the Manager and he has received us and introduced to two of his team members. They have asked us to choose from a couple of options. One is to just give them our shopping list and they will shop for us and another is they would take us around the store and we can pick the products that we needed. We have opted for the later. They have immediately picked a cart for us and we started walking. They have called out each and every product to us and given us a choice to select. As we select a product, they were adding it to the card. They were even willing to carry our child too (though he declined!).

They have taken us to all the departments; even told us about available freebies such as a sample drink etc., and helped us having the same. It took about an hour for shopping and their personnel were always with us. At the end of the shopping, we were attended by a priority cash counter. There were seats available for us to sit incase if we want. Then we got dropped at our cab. Even our shopping bags were kept inside the cab by their personnel. It was absolutely a wonderful experience.

The store that we have visited is one of the very old stores hence store did not have escalator or elevator but staff were indeed helpful. Our advice to customers with wheel chair or anyone who cannot use stairs is that it would be good to with your desired shopping list. Alternatively, store personnel can give you a store catalogue and you can choose products that you need.

Thank you, Big Bazar for this initiative. Sure, this would add mutual benefit to you and your customers.