Background and Purpose I Instructions I Quality and Policy

Background and Purpose

People with a visual impairment need an alternative way of accessing the information conveyed by images and other non-text objects (e.g., charts).

The purpose of this checkpoint, then, is to ensure that all non-text graphic objects (Picture, Clip Art, Shape, Smart Art, and Chart) are assigned a meaningful textual description that adequately describes their purpose or that they are identified as images used solely for presentation.

In some cases, graphic objects are not used to convey information (example: decorative shapes). These objects must be marked in PDF as “artifacts.”  Furthermore, objects on slide templates are artifacts, but PowerPoint provides no control over objects on the slide. CommonLook Office provides support for marking images and other objects as Artifacts in the Style Mapping Checkpoint. You may also mark images as Artifacts by selecting “No textual description required” in this checkpoint.

NOTE: Multiple PowerPoint Shapes are often used together create a more complex object (e.g., a flow chart). Before providing a textual description to a set of shapes that belong together (for accessibility purposes), you must identify them as a group in the Grouping Checkpoint.


  1. Check the Show all radio button in the CommonLook Office panel. This causes all graphic objects (Picture, Clip Art, Shape, Smart Art and Chart) to be listed in the CommonLook Office panel
  2. Verify that the textual description, if any, describes the purpose of the selected graphic object. If it does not, enter an appropriate description.
  3. If the object is not used to convey information (for example: decorative shapes), then simply check No textual description required.
  4. Click Next to move to the next object.
  5. Repeat until you have verified all the listed objects have been assigned a meaningful text description or have been identified as images used solely for presentation.

Picture showing a PowerPoint slide with a picture, a flow chart, and a decorative watermark.


Check Show images with no textual description to hide objects that already have alternate text. Choose this option if you have already confirmed the accuracy of alternative text provided for these objects.

Text Tag Quality and Policy

Some organizations have policies that govern the quality of the text description for an image to ensure that the description conveys the relevant information. CommonLook Office facilitates such policies by providing a warning when an image description may not be of sufficient quality, for example, if the description is simply a filename, or contains less than three words. Advanced users can manage the alternative text quality control settings using the Warn for Alternative Text Checkpoint Preference.

Guidelines and Standards

This checkpoint is relevant to the following regulations, guidelines and standards.

DocumentPublishedScopeConformance Criteria
Section 508 (USA)2001“Web-Based Information & Applications”(a)
W3C WCAG 2.02008Web ContentSC 1.1.1
ISO 14289 (PDF/UA)2012PDF TechnologySection 7.3


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