People with a visual impairment need an alternative way of accessing the information conveyed by images and other non-textual objects (e.g., charts).
A meaningful description of pictures, clip art, shapes, Smart Art objects, and charts is required in order to provide this information. These object types are shown in the Illustrations group, part of the Insert tab in the Word ribbon.
NOTE: Objects are often included in documents simply for decorative purposes. To be handled correctly in an accessible PDF, such objects must be marked as “artifacts.”
For more information, refer to the section on Artifacts, below. There is no support for marking objects as artifacts in MS Word.
The following sections illustrate the techniques available in MS Word and CommonLook Office for adding alternative text to non-textual objects.
- Double-click or right-click on the object to display the format tab.
- Click on the little arrow in the Size (Word 2007) or Styles (Word 2010) group to display the Size dialog box.
- Click on the Alt Text tab and provide a description of the selected picture, clip art, smart art, or chart. The description should communicate all of the relevant information about the object. In Word 2010, be sure to use the “Description” field, not the Title field.
Adding alternative text in Word 2007 Adding alternative text in Word 2010
Shapes are typically used to create a more complex object (for example, a flow chart). You must groups these shapes together before providing an alternative text description.
To group a collection of shapes in MS Word:
- Select all the shapes to be grouped (This can be done by pressing the ctrl key as you select each of the shapes).
- Right click on one of the selected shapes.
- Select Grouping and then select Group.
Adding alt text to grouped shapes in Word 2007 Adding alt text to grouped shapes in Word 2010 Once the shapes are grouped, click on the resulting object to display the format tab. Once the shapes are grouped, click on the resulting object to display the format tab. Click on the little arrow in the Size group to display the Format Autoshape dialog box. Click on the little arrow in the Shape Styles group to display the Format Shape dialog box. Click on the Alt Text tab and provide a description of the selected object. The description should communicate all relevant information: Click on the Alt Text tab and provide a description of the selected object. The description should communicate all relevant information:
Artifacts are objects intended for purely decorative purposes (i.e., they don’t contribute information to the document). While Word includes no support for marking objects as artifacts, CommonLook Office makes this possible.
Use CommonLook Office to mark objects as artifacts or add textual descriptions to meaningful graphics.