How to add ALT text to image metadata

These instructions are written for InDesign users and people working with graphic designers, but could be applied to other applications and fields as well.

Although images cannot carry actual alternative (ALT) text around with them, you can add the ALT text to the metadata of an image to use as you please. This aids in efficiency and reduces chance of error when applying ALT text to images.

Screenshot of image properties, details tab open

Client:

Adding ALT text to the metadata (PC/Windows):

  1. Select your images and write out your alternative (ALT) text.
  1. Open the folder where your images are kept (ex: Pictures folder in Windows)
  2. Right click the image
  3. Select “Properties” from the drop-down menu.
  4. Click the “Details” tab.
  5. Paste your ALT text into the “Title” input field of the photo
  6. Click OK (this will save the metadata)
  7. Send the photos with the metadata to your Designer/Design Request. Inform your designer that you have put the ALT text in the Title/Description field of the photo’s metadata.

Note: Instructions above written for Windows 7 users.

Faster Alternative: Adobe Bridge

If your client has an Adobe Creative Suite license, they can do these steps faster in Adobe Bridge, where they would put the ALT text in the Description OR Headline field of the image metadata.

Screenshot of the script panel in InDesign and ALT text script dialogue box

Designer:

Applying ALT text with a script

  1. Confirm you are using the photos with the metadata (can double check by opening in Adobe Bridge – text will likely be in the Description field)
  2. Run the ApplyALTfromXMP script
  3. Confirm the ALT Text Source is “XMP: Description” (or wherever else the ALT text is saved)
  4. Click OK
  5. If successful, you will get a dialogue box with total number of images processed displayed. Click OK.
  • If you do not get the quantity you were expecting, confirm the location of the ALT text in the metadata.
  • If you do not get a dialogue box, something is wrong with the script and you’ll need to troubleshoot.

ALT Text Script:

If you do not have the ALT text script installed, you will need to install it yourself. Instructions and free download are at Batch Apply XMP ALT Tags to EPUB and HTML Images

Screenshot of the object export options window in InDesign

Applying ALT text manually

  1. Confirm you are using the photos with the metadata (can double check by opening in Bridge – text will likely be in the Description field)
  2. In Design, select the photo
  3. Go to Object in your top navigation bar
  4. Select Object Export Options from the dropdown menu
  5. Confirm you are in the ALT text input area
  6. Click “Text Source”
  7. Select “Description” from the dropdown menu
  8. Click “Done”

Note:

Skip Step 3 and 4 by using the default key command Opt+X

Scripts for InDesign: Accessibility

Adobe InDesign is a common application used by graphic designers.

Scripts can be used in InDesign to help designers make accessible documents, and to speed up some tasks. Below are some free scripts that I have found beneficial:

Accessibility

This add-on by Stephane Baril allows for easier access to the necessary items to set up a tagged document in InDesign (CS5+).

Its also great when teaching yourself or others the steps to create accessible documents in InDesign.

Note: This requires an Adobe  Creative Cloud subscription.

Batch Apply XMP ALT Tags to EPUB and HTML Images

This Script by Marijan Tompa is very handy if you work for someone who puts the ALT text for Images in the XML: Headline or somewhere else in the metadata of an image. Instead of applying the ALT text to each individual image through Object Export Options, you can run this script to do it for you.

Note: When I tried to run this in CS6, the Script did not work unless I moved it from the Users folder to the Application folder. See forum post, All InDesign Scripts won’t work for further information on troubleshooting this problem.

Regular installation instructions can be found at How to install scripts in InDesign.

Resources

If you are looking for general information on creating accessible documents in InDesign, I suggest:

Action Script for PDF Accessibility: Automate Properties

When working with a lot of PDFs as part of your day-to-day work, scripts to automate regular tasks can come in really handy.

The instructions below will automate some of the tasks that are often part of the workflow when creating accessible PDF documents. The tasks I am focusing on for this Script are found under *Properties* in PDF documents in *Adobe Acrobat Pro* (not Acrobat Reader). They include:

  • Add Tags to Document
  • Show Document Title
  • Show Bookmarks
  • Set the document Language
  • Run Full Accessibility Check

These instructions presume that the document is tagged and that you/your client is filling out Document Title and keywords in the original document’s File Info. If this is not the case, you’ll need to add those manually. To find out how to do this, I recommend the Accessible Digital Office Document Project (ADOD).

Screenshot of Acrobat Pro, showing the View dropdown open.

Acrobat XI:

  1. View > Tools > Action Wizard
  2. The Action Wizard panel will appear on the right hand side of your document. Select “Create New Action” from the menu. A window will appear, showing you the available options for creating an Action Script.
  3. To automate Add Tags to Document:
    1. Accessibility > Add Tags to Document.
    2. Click “Add to right hand pane,” the green plus (+) icon.
  4. Set the document’s Description, such as the document Title (if in the document Properties in Word or InDesign) and Author:
    1. Content > Add Document Description
    2. Click “Add to right hand pane,” the green plus (+) icon.
    3. Click “Specify Settings”. A box will appear with fields and check boxes.
    4. Uncheck “Prompt Use.”
      1. Note: Most existing Action Scripts have this checked, which is helpful in scenarios like training. However, prompting can be annoying when you already know what your doing. By unchecking “Prompt User” you are letting the Action Script run through its tasks without you giving it further permission.
    5. Leave the check boxes clicked for the info you want carried over from the original document. If you want something different, for example the author being Company X rather than whoever wrote the original document, you can put Company X in the Author field.
  5. Set the Initial View, such as Navigation Tab (Show Bookmarks) and Show: Document Title (not File Name)
    1. Document Processing > Set Open Options
    2. Click “Add to right hand pane,” the green plus (+) icon.
    3. Uncheck “Prompt User”
    4. Click “Specify Settings.” Under Initial View, select Bookmarks & Page, and under Window Options, you’ll see Display Document Title. Select “Yes” instead of “Leave As Is”
  6. Set Reading Language:
    1. Accessibility > Set Reading Language.
    2. Click “Add to right hand pane,” the green plus (+) icon.
    3. Uncheck “Prompt User”
    4. Click “Specify Settings.”
    5. Select English from the language options. (if you often work with documents written in other languages, you can set up different Action Scripts for French, Spanish etc).
  7. To automate running the Full Accessibility Check:
    1. Accessibility > Full Accessibility Check
    2. Click “Add to right hand pane,” the green plus (+) icon.
    3. Uncheck “Prompt User”
  8. Once you have finished applying the necessary tasks to your Action Script, select “Save”
  9. Enter the desired name and description for your Action Script.
  10. And ta-da! You’re done!

Resources:

Standardize Routine PDF Tasks

SCreenshot of the Edit Action script panel and the Manage Action Script panel in Acrobat DC

Acrobat DC

Acrobat DC comes with an Action Script called ‘Make Accessible’. However, you may not want it to do all the tasks it comes with (OCR, autotag etc) or prompt you at every step (inefficient use of time). You can either make your own Action Script, or create a revised version to suit your needs.

  1. Open Tools and scroll down to Customize.
  2. Select Action Wizard (Note: to add it to your sidebar in Acrobat for quick access in future, click ‘Add’)
  3. Select “Manage Actions” in the top navigation bar
  4. You will see a list of Actions. Select “Make Accessible” (default script) and select Copy.
  5. Enter a new or revised name
  6. With your copied script selected, click Edit.
  7. Select the actions you with to edit/delete and change as you best see fit.

Resources:

Action Wizard (Acrobat Pro DC)

Create and verify PDF accessibility (Acrobat Pro DC)

Mind Mapping Apps

Mind-mapping / concept mapping is a great tool to have. Here are some free online applications to help layout your ideas!

Mind-mapping is a great tool to help layout your ideas. I didn’t quite understand the value of it until I went to grad school, but now I appreciate the illustrative thought process and organization it can allow. Here are some applications I found for free online that you can use for your own concept maps!

Bubbl.us

Screen capture of a mind map consisting of green square bubbles and a grey menu

https://bubbl.us/

MindMeister

Grey screen with a blue box surrounded by small white boxes to create a blank mind map

www.mindmeister.com/
Popplet

Blue screen with three mindmaps. Each mind map has either a pink, orange, or blue border with white centres and black type.

http://popplet.com/

Dragon: Text to Speech Application

Dragon Dictate is an application you can use to control a computer or smartphone by voice command and to transcribe speech.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is an application that allows you to operate a computer by voice command, including transcriptions. I think its a great way to get ideas written down without having to worry about formulating them when typing them out.

You can order a copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking on the company’s website, or download a torrent through a peer-to-peer sharing site.

You can download Dragon Dictation, an iPhone version of this app for free on iTunes to write text messages or update social media statuses hands-free on your phone. There is also Dragon Search which allows you to verbally search the web, social media, and iTunes.

Other Text to Speech Applications: