Previous ProposalReturn to ScheduleNext Proposal

How to Write a Good Description for Visual Elements

Proposal No: 2687

Bios & Handouts


  • Gaeir Dietrich, Access Specialist, Consultant
  • Robert Beach, AT Specialist, Kansas City Kansas Community College

Disability Area:          

Topic Area:                  

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

Summary of Session

What do you say in alt text? What makes a good alt text description? We will explore how to describe various types of graphics and consider what to do when a description is not enough.


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. We will discuss the differences between alt text and descriptions, which is appropriate when, and how to use them effectively. We will offer guidelines on how to write a description. We touch on what to do when a description is not enough.


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

Speaker Bio(s)

Gaeir Dietrich

Gaeir Dietrich is a nationally recognized expert in the field of alternate media, assistive technology, and Section 508 compliance. Gaeir has served on advisory boards for the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), Bookshare, the DIAGRAM Center, the Alternate Text Production Center (ATPC), and the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center. In 2010-2011, she served as the chair for the federal Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education.

Robert Beach

Robert has been the Assistive Technology Specialist at Kansas City Kansas Community College since January of 1994. His duties at the college include managing all aspects of assistive technology, coordinating the production of alternate formatted materials, and acting as the assistive technology liaison to the community. He currently teaches the for-credit classes on assistive technology at both Kansas City Kansas Community College and Johnson County Community College. He serves on the Advisory Council for the Assistive Technology for Kansans Project and is a member of both the Instructional Materials Accessibility Group and Technology Standing Committee for AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disabilities). He started ATMAN (Access Technologist’ Metro Area Network), which is a group of AT professionals in the Kansas City area. Robert developed and oversees the alternate format production system for KCKCC.


How to Write a Good Visual Description A PICTURE IS WORTH 300 WORDS NCAM_office_hours_24oct2013