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Strategies for Representing Graphics: from eText to Alt Tags to Tactile

| Proposal No: 913

Bios & Handouts


  • Robert Beach, Assistive Technology Specialist, Kansas City KS Comm. Col.
  • Gaeir Dietrich, Director, California Community Colleges

Disability Area:          

Topic Area:                

Length of Session (in hours): 1-hrFormat: Lecture Expertise Level: All Levels Type of session: Not provided

Summary of Session

This session will explore the issue of graphics in electronic formats. We will consider when to use alt text vs. descriptions. We will also discuss how to decide when to use tactile graphics in addition to descriptions.


Graphics in electronic documents require text descriptions in order to be accessible, but how do you know what to say and how much to say? This session will consider the various possibilities for making graphics accessible, including alt text, long desc, and tactile graphics. We will offer guidelines on how to write a description, and present a simple decision tree to assist you in recognizing when a tactile graphic might be appropriate in addition to the description.


  1. When to use alt text and when to use long descriptions
  2. What to include in alt text or descriptions
  3. When is a description not enough

Speaker Bio(s)

Robert Beach

Robert has been the Assistive Technology Specialist at Kansas City Kansas Community College since January of 1994. He is a member of AHEAD and ATHEN. He currently serves on the ATHEN Executive Board as a Member at Large Representative, is the current president of KAN-AHEAD and is on the Advisory Council for the Assistive Technology for Kansans Project. He has presented several sessions at previous Accessing Higher Ground conferences as well as other regional and national conferences.

Gaeir Dietrich

Gaeir Dietrich is the director of the High Tech Center Training Unit (HTCTU) of the California community colleges, located at De Anza College in Cupertino, California, and a nationally recognized exert in the field of alternate media. Gaeir is a member of the advisory boards for the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), Bookshare, the Alternate Text Production Center (ATPC), the Descriptive Leadership Network, and the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center. She serves as an expert to the board for the Access Text Network (ATN). In 2010-2011, she served as the chair for the national Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education.