Guideline 1. Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content.Provide content that, when presented to the user, conveys essentially the same function or purpose as auditory or visual content.
Although some people cannot use images, movies, sounds, applets, etc. directly, they may still use pages that include equivalent information to the visual or auditory content. The equivalent information must serve the same purpose as the visual or auditory content. Thus, a text equivalent for an image of an upward arrow that links to a table of contents could be “Go to table of contents”. In some cases, an equivalent should also describe the appearance of visual content (e.g., for complex charts, billboards, or diagrams) or the sound of auditory content (e.g., for audio samples used in education).
This guideline emphasizes the importance of providing text equivalents of non-text content (images, pre-recorded audio, video). The power of text equivalents lies in their capacity to be rendered in ways that are accessible to people from various disability groups using a variety of technologies. Text can be readily output to speech synthesizers and braille displays, and can be presented visually (in a variety of sizes) on computer displays and paper. Synthesized speech is critical for individuals who are blind and for many people with the reading difficulties that often accompany cognitive disabilities, learning disabilities, and deafness. Braille is essential for individuals who are both deaf and blind, as well as many individuals whose only sensory disability is blindness. Text displayed visually benefits users who are deaf as well as the majority of Web users.
Providing non-text equivalents (e.g., pictures, videos, and pre-recorded audio) of text is also beneficial to some users, especially nonreaders or people who have difficulty reading. In movies or visual presentations, visual action such as body language or other visual cues may not be accompanied by enough audio information to convey the same information. Unless verbal descriptions of this visual information are provided, people who cannot see (or look at) the visual content will not be able to perceive it.
1.1 Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element (e.g., via “alt”, “longdesc”, or in element content).This includes: images, graphical representations of text (including symbols), image map regions, animations (e.g., animated GIFs), applets and programmatic objects, ascii art, frames, scripts, images used as list bullets, spacers, graphical buttons, sounds (played with or without user interaction), stand-alone audio files, audio tracks of video, and video. [Priority 1] For example, in HTML: * Use “alt” for the IMG, INPUT, and APPLET elements, or provide a text equivalent in the content of the OBJECT and APPLET elements. * For complex content (e.g., a chart) where the “alt” text does not provide a complete text equivalent, provide an additional description using, for example, “longdesc” with IMG or FRAME, a link inside an OBJECT element, or a description link. * For image maps, either use the “alt” attribute with AREA, or use the MAP element with A elements (and other text) as content. Refer also to checkpoint 9.1 and checkpoint 13.10.
1.2 Provide redundant text links for each active region of a server-side image map. [Priority 1]Refer also to checkpoint 1.5 and checkpoint 9.1.
1.3 Until user agents can automatically read aloud the text equivalent of a visual track, provide an auditory description of the important information of the visual track of a multimedia presentation. [Priority 1]Synchronize the auditory description with the audio track as per checkpoint 1.4. Refer to checkpoint 1.1 for information about textual equivalents for visual information.
1.4 For any time-based multimedia presentation (e.g., a movie or animation), synchronize equivalent alternatives (e.g., captions or auditory descriptions of the visual track) with the presentation. [Priority 1]
1.5 Until user agents render text equivalents for client-side image map links, provide redundant text links for each active region of a client-side image map. [Priority 3]Refer also to checkpoint 1.2 and checkpoint 9.1.