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Why Alt Tags are Vital for Much More than SEO

Image of Reader - Assistive Technology

Tips for Making Your Site or Blog Disability-Friendly

Image of Reader - Assistive TechnologyAn Alt Tag is the alternative text that describes an image or other element when that element  cannot be displayed. It’s what you see when you mouse-over an image or area. If you ask a lot of people why they should put alt tags on their site or blog for images many will respond that it’s for SEO purposes. In other words, it helps your site when it comes to search engines because search engines can’t “read” images. And that is a perfectly valid, and important, reason to use alt tags.

However, by far the more critical reason to use alt tags is to help those people who require“assistive technology” in order for them to use computers and the Internet. For instance, blind people might use a device that speaks the text you would normally read – called a screen reader. A screen reader cannot interpret an image or other such elements and wouldn’t know whether it’s a photo, a logo, or a link, for instance.

Here is an awesome link that describes how some users with certain disabilities use computers and the Internet.

Quick Tips for Making Your Site User-Friendly for People with Disabilities

1. Images & animations: Use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual.

2. Image maps. Use the client-side map and text for hotspots.

3. Multimedia. Provide captioning and transcripts of audio, and descriptions of video.

4. Hypertext links. Use text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid “click here.”

5. Page organization. Use headings, lists, and consistent structure. Use CSS for layout and style where possible.

6. Graphs & charts. Summarize or use the longdesc attribute.

7. Scripts, applets, & plug-ins. Provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.

8. Frames. Use the noframes element and meaningful titles.

9. Tables. Make line-by-line reading sensible. Summarize.

10. Check your work. Validate. Use tools, checklist, and guidelines at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG

So go ahead, use alt tags to improve your SEO – but also to make your site or blog user-friendly for everyone who uses the Internet.

To Learn More check out the Web Accessibility Initiative

photo by Kathy Cassidy

About the author: Karen, zencopy creator, is a top 10 bestselling amazon author, creativity coach, and an online content specialist with a masters in psychology and passion for learning and teaching new topics.

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