Better Techniques to Make Complex Graphics Accessible

Presented at 9:15am in Plaza Court 1 on Wednesday, November 17, 2021.



  • Bevi Chagnon, Designer, Senior Accessibility Trainer,
  • Karen McCall, President, Karlen Communications

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


Think beyond Alt-Text! Complex graphical information needs more than Alt-Text to fully present the details in common graphics, such as flow charts, maps, statistical charts, info-graphics, and other graphical data. Learn different techniques that can help make this data available to all users, and reduce your time to produce accessible materials.


Often, Alt-Text alone is not the best solution to make complex visual graphics accessible to your audience. Alt-Text has many drawbacks for those with disabilities: users do not have full control over how their assistive technology (AT) presents or voices the Alt-Text; different technologies often truncate the Alt-Text at an arbitrary point; and most ATs do not provide the user with any functionality for searching, commenting, highlighting, or using the Alt-Text.

Alt-Text alone is not capable of conveying useful information about complex graphics.

Join these two powerhouse technologists and educators — Bevi Chagnon and Karen McCall — as they present different methods to convey detailed, complex graphical information that provide a better learning experience for those who use AT … and all users, as well. It’s time to re-think your Alt-Text!


  1. Demonstrates several methods and techniques that can augment Alt-Text.
  2. Provides samples and models for your reference
  3. Meets WCAG and PDF/UA accessibility standards.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, EPUB Track, Other, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Bevi Chagnon

Bevi Chagnon has been active in the standards community for 25 years, and currently is a US Delegate to the ISO committees for PDF and PDF/UA. With a long career in publishing, she’s an expert for Adobe InDesign, Acrobat, MS Office, and accessibility. She’s a professional educator, award-winning designer, and former faculty member at Washington DC-area colleges/universities. Bevi is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and a contributor on many forums, including the Adobe Community Forums where she is an invited Community Expert.

Karen McCall

Karen McCall, M.Ed. has been working in the field of accessible document design since 1999. She began her career in website accessibility and auditing and moved to accessible Word, PowerPoint and PDF documents in 2004. Karen is:

A Canadian delegate of the ISO 14289 or PDF/UA (Universal Accessibility) committee and has been for a number of years. A Canadian delegate to the ISO 32000 PDF committee. A Microsoft MVP for Word (Most Valued Professional) since 2009. A Microsoft Accessibility MVP since 2017 when this category of MVP was established.

Karen has written several books on the topic of accessible document design for Word, PowerPoint and PDF documents as well as smaller publications with specific techniques for working with Office applications if you are using adaptive technology and/or the keyboard.

Karen is the president of Karlen Communications.