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37th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

Embedding Text Alternatives in Images Using Photo Metadata

Date & Time
Tuesday, March 15, 2022 - 11:20 AM PST  
Orange County  

This session will provide an introduction to photo metadata and a practical guide on how to deliver high quality accessible image content. Presentation will include:

I. Introduction to Photo Metadata

A. What is photo metadata?

Set of data providing information about an image

Allows transportation of information within an image file

Is understood by software providers and human users

B. What are the benefits?

Provides structure for precise and reliable data

Smooths image workflows and operations

Improves online and offline search and discovery

C. Who uses photo metadata?

News agencies





Image archives


D. Where is it stored?

Internally – embedded in image files (DNG, PNG, and TIFF)

Externally – digital asset management systems (DAMs) or sidecar files

II. New and Existing IPTC Photo Metadata Properties

A. Alt Text (Accessibility) - New Property

Brief textual description of the purpose and meaning of an image

Accessed by assistive technology or displayed when image disabled in browser

Target is 125 characters, not to exceed 250 characters

Complies with requirements for WCAG Success Criterion 1.1 Text Alternatives

B. Extended Description (Accessibility) - New Property

More detailed textual description of the purpose and meaning of an image

Elaborates on information provided by Alt Text (Accessibility) property

No character limitation.

Not required if Alt Text (Accessibility) is deemed to be sufficient

Complies with requirements for WCAG Success Criteria 1.1 Text Alternatives

C. Headline, Description/Caption, Description Writer - Existing Related IPTC Properties

Headline: Brief synopsis or summary of the contents of the image

Description/Caption: Who, what, when, where, why, and how of an image

Description Writer: Identifier, name of person(s) involved in writing description

III. Overview of WCAG Success Criterion 1.1 Text Alternatives

A. Purpose of Text Alternatives

Ensure all non-text content is available in electronic text format

Describe content, purpose, and function of an image

Make non-text content “programmatically determinable”

B. Quick Tips for Alt Text

Begin with the primary focus or central subject of the image

Keep it short (125 characters, no more than 250 characters)

Describe relevant details that relate to the purpose or meaning of the image

C. Quick Tips for Extended Description

Do not repeat information already described in the alt text

Do not repeat information already available in nearby text on the page

Elaborate on details related to the image content, purpose, and function

D. Incorporating Context into Text Alternatives.

Surrounding text

Groups of images


Reading level

E. HTML Image Attributes for Text Alternatives

Creates a holding space for an image, must contain and

Provides the image source location or file name

Provides a brief text alternative for an image

Specifies location information for a more detailed description

IV. How to Apply Photo Metadata to Image Workflows and Operations

A. Why It’s Important to Prioritize Human-Generated Descriptions

Importance of humans writing for humans

Update on quality and applications for image recognition technology

Museum Case Study: Cooper Hewitt and Coyote Pics

B. How to Manage Digital Collection Backlogs

Decide on internal or external approach, as well as timeline

Steps to add embedded metadata for Alt Text and Extended Description

How to extract image accessibility photo metadata for HTML

How to use “Lang Alt” metadata to embed multiple languages

C. Steps for Establishing Born-Accessible Image Workflows

Assemble an image accessibility working group and task force

Comprehensive map of internal and external image metadata ecosystem

Teach teams how to implement Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Adobe programs

Establish new standards and requirements for image creators

This Presentation Link is provided by the Presenter(s) and not hosted by the Center on Disabilities at CSUN. The Center on Disabilities has confirmed, as of March 14, 2022, content linked is relevant to the presentation, but has not been reviewed for accessibility nor will the Center on Disabilities attempt to remediate any accessibility issues in the linked content. Please contact the Presenter(s) with any accessibility concerns.

  • Higher Education
  • Information & Communications Technology
  • Media & Publishing
  • Research & Development
  • Marketing
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
Update on IPTC’s new Alt Text and Extended Description properties added to the IPTC photo metadata standard in Autumn 2021. This session will explore how image providers and licensors can use embedded metadata in image files to scale human-generated descriptions, manage existing digital backlogs, and deliver born-accessible images.  
Session Type
General Track  
  • Blind/Low Vision
  • Digital Accessibility
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Evaluation & Remediation
  • Web


  • Caroline Desrosiers

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