Yes, even websites need to be ADA complaint, especially if you are a public agency. One of the most common issues in ADA website compliance that I find is with the use of images. Images are worth a thousand words, but only if you can see them. For individuals with low-vision or blindness, images can only be seen through the use of screen readers if text has been assigned to the image itself. Screen readers look for this text and if they can’t find it, then the website is not ADA complaint.
The Alt Tag
Screen readers look for the “alt tag” code in the website’s coding to describe the image to the person. Alt tags can contain any number of text and it is left of to the website programmer to determine what text is used to describe an image. For example, if we have an image for our superintendent or mayor, we can assign the “alt tag” to read “the superintendent of xyz school district” or “mayor of xyz city” or we can even use the person’s name. The screen reader will then see that text and read it aloud to the person.
This is also how search engines like Google know that a picture is actually of a person when you search for their name. Someone has named the actual image file and “alt tag” the same as the person you are searching for.
How to find if your images have alt tags
It is simple to find out if your images or any website’s for that matter, have alt tags. All you need to do is look at the “page source” of the webpage. In Firefox use Ctrl+U. In Internet Explorer hit F12. Then search by doing a ctrl+F and finding this “<img” (leave off the quotes). This will show you were all the images are located in the code. You should see “alt=” and “src=”. The SRC is the souce file for the image – where it is located on the webserver.” The “alt=” is what the screen reader will read, so a image with an alt tag will look like “alt=mayor of city” and an image without an alt tag will be “alt=”.
So, next time you are setting up your website or placing an image on the web for your organization, make sure to include the title and alt tag for the web programmer to use. This will help get you one step closer to having an ADA complaint website.