Compliance rule law and regulation graphic
Home » The Critical Oversight of Alt Text in Web Accessibility

The Critical Oversight of Alt Text in Web Accessibility

on February 11, 2024 at 6:40am |Updated on February 9, 2024 at 12:23pm A duck is waddling towards the camera. It has a label attached that says

Avoiding Common Mistakes

When it comes to ensuring inclusivity, the role of text, in accessible web design cannot be overstated. However many websites fail to use text leading to widespread issues with accessibility. This not affects users with disabilities. Also impacts a websites compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). In this discussion we delve into Accessibility Audits, Website Accessibility Audits, Accessibility Testing and the nuances of Website Accessibility WCAG Compliance. By doing we uncover the reasons behind the neglect of proper alt text usage and its implications for web accessibility.

Underestimating the Importance of Alt Text

One reason for use of alt text is a general underestimation of its significance. Alt text serves as an alternative for content allowing screen readers to convey information to users with visual impairments. Unfortunately many web designers and developers overlook this necessity. View text as an optional enhancement rather, than an essential component of accessible web design.

Lack of Awareness and Understanding

Another contributing factor to incorrect text usage is a lack of awareness and understanding regarding web accessibility guidelines.While the WCAG provides guidelines, for text including the importance of relevance and descriptive accuracy many web developers lack a complete understanding of these guidelines. This knowledge gap often results in alt text being neglected or implemented incorrectly which ultimately hampers the accessibility and usability of websites for users relying on technologies.

Dealing with Complex Content

As websites continue to evolve and incorporate dynamic and complex content ensuring that all visual elements have appropriate alt text becomes increasingly difficult. Interactive features like sliders or carousels as intricate graphics such as infographics require detailed and descriptive alt text to effectively convey information to users who cannot see them. Unfortunately many websites fail to update their text when content changes occur leading to inconsistencies that can confuse or exclude individuals with impairments.

The Overlooked SEO Benefits

Alt text plays a role not in accessibility but also in a websites search engine optimization (SEO). Alt text contributes to image indexing. Can enhance a websites visibility in search results. However these potential benefits, for SEO are often disregarded, resulting in missed opportunities to improve a websites presence and expand its reach.

Insufficient Testing, for Website Accessibility

One crucial step in ensuring that websites are accessible is conducting accessibility testing, which involves evaluating the use of alt text. However many websites fail to undergo accessibility audits or limit their testing to automated tools that may not detect all issues related to alt text usage. Without testing and evaluation by individuals who understand both the challenges of accessibility and the intricacies of technology websites continue to fall short in providing accessible content.

Misguided Prioritization in Web Design

In the pursuit of design and attractive visuals it is common for web designers to prioritize elements over accessibility features like alt text. This misplaced focus can lead to the creation of websites that prioritize appearance over functionality pushing aside considerations for accessibility in favor of impact. As a result the essential practice of including text is often overlooked, undermining the accessibility of the website.

The Impact of Incorrect Alt Text Usage

The consequences of using text incorrectly have reaching effects. Users, with impairments may find themselves unable to access information navigate websites effectively or fully engage with content. This exclusion can lead to frustration. Restrict user independence while contradicting the principles of inclusivity.
Moreover websites that do not properly implement text face the risk of non compliance, with accessibility standards, which could result in legal consequences and damage to their reputation.

Moving Towards Accessibility

To tackle the issue of incorrect alt text usage a comprehensive approach is required. This involves improving education and training on web accessibility principles integrating accessibility considerations into the web design process from the beginning and conducting accessibility testing that prioritizes real world user experiences. By giving importance to using text correctly web designers and developers can make significant progress in creating more inclusive and accessible online environments.


The use of text is a crucial aspect in striving for web accessibility; however it is often overlooked in accessible web design. The reasons behind this oversight vary from lack of awareness to testing and misguided design priorities. By addressing these challenges and highlighting the significance of text in web accessibility we can pave the way for an inclusive digital world. As the digital landscape evolves ensuring websites are accessible to everyone by using text correctly will be essential in fulfilling the promise of inclusivity and compliance, with WCAG standards.
Are you interested, in learning more?

Lets talk about conducting an accessibility assessment for your website.
We can have a one hour consultation to discuss any aspect of website accessibility.

Clive Loseby
Access by Design / Access by Audit
Creating WCAG Compliant, Accessible Websites, with Designs
Consistently Providing Exceptional WCAG 2.2 Website Accessibility Audits