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Accessible Content Tips

Accessibility Resources

Practices to create accessible image descriptions and audio recordings. Internal page.

Jessica Oddi

Updated 11 October 2023. This guide is a free resource written by Jessica Oddi. Please attribute her when sharing with others. No payment is required.

writing image descriptions

Alt Text [or Alternative Text], is a written description of images in the code of an image tag. Vital for those who are Blind or use screen reading devices. Keep it short but relevant to the image.

If you include Image Descriptions in your caption [along with Alt Text in settings] it can help those who might miss out on details from an image alone.

the basics

  • Keep alt text short [100 to 150 characters]. If the image is too complex, make the alt text a title, then put a full image description in a caption.
  • Avoid phrases like “image of” or “graphic of”. If useful, include the type of image or graphic instead. Is it a photo, illustration, collage?
  • Include all visible text on the image. Write out all the words, not just the overview or subject matter.
  • Focus on the purpose of the visual first, then follow up with minor elements. What is the most important detail? Then you can describe areas around the center-point.
  • Never assume race or gender for people-based images. If you don’t know the person’s race or gender, not skin tone and use they/them pronouns. Example: I’m a white disabled woman in a power wheelchair. If you didn’t know that about me, you could write “a light-skinned person sits in a wheelchair”.
  • Write in a style that’s comfortable for you! Alt text and image descriptions can be short, long, expressive, creative, etc.

advanced tips

For more complex images, there are a few ways you can go about writing image descriptions. These can be applied to basic images as well. But remember, this takes practice! Any description is better than none, and over time it gets easier. Here are a few tips for complex, or abstract and creative images:

  • Start with context. What is this image? Is it a collage, a mixed media piece, an abstract sculpture?
  • Describe the mood! Is it dark, gloomy, bright, happy, or maybe a little trippy? Subject Matter: Art styles like abstract-surrealism, bold expressionism, or terms that convey the feeling behind the image. If not an art style, choose a theme or structure! Is it futuristic, vintage, organic, sharp, or jagged?
  • Then we set the scene. What’s happening in this image? Describe the colors, objects, flow and textures [if applicable].
  • Use a third-party tone, or the perspective of an outside observer. As a curator describes an exhibit, or specific piece in an art gallery.


This first piece is for pure teaching for the basics. Jess used a personal photo and wrote three different styles of descriptions. We will go through each to show there is no right or wrong way to write!

Baby Jess in a manual wheelchair.

Basic: Baby photo of Jess, sitting in a manual wheelchair. She holds sunglasses at her nose and has a pacifier.

Descriptive: Jess as a baby, sits in a manual chair. She holds pink sunglasses down at her nose, and has a matching pacifier. Jess is white, dressed in 90’s attire with a cap and patterned leggings. There are toys on her tray.

Expressive: Baby Jess, a white disabled toddler, straight out of the 90's. Rocking a baseball hat, pink sunglasses, and a pacifier so big she doesn't care if she's too old for it. Jess sits in a manual wheelchair three times her size, while holding her sunglasses down to her nose. Her sassy expression that says she's clearly too cool for the toys on her tray.

more examples

The following are a few pieces Jess made for her social media account. The first is the book cover for Witty Wheels [client work]. The second is a cover for an old Instagram Reel.

Witty Wheels book cover.

Short: A collage of Elena and Maria Chiara, two Italian women in wheelchairs, in a surrealist style. The bodies melt at the waist; their torso and legs are joined by threads that thin and thicken. Surrounded by flowers and golden wheelchair parts.

Long: A collage of Elena and Maria Chiara in a surrealist style. Elena has long dark hair, wears a black T-shirt, blue pants and black ballet flats, and is sprawled in an electric wheelchair. Maria Chiara has long dark hair, wears a white tank top, black jeans and combat boots, and is seated in an electric wheelchair.

The bodies of both "melt" at the waist, so that their respective torso and legs are joined by threads that thin and thicken. The prams are deconstructed into various pieces, gold-coloured like the girls' rings and bracelets.

All around there are leaves and large purple, blue and pink flowers, as well as small red tulips present above all in the points of junction between busts and legs.


Image Description: Rant! In abstract letters, intertwined in a single stroke. Thick and thin lines form an organic shape from the letters. Fine vertical lines in the background against a dark grey.

audio recordings and transcripts

With video or audio content, you want to create multiple ways to interact. Tactile [pause, reading the transcript]. Audial [good quality sound and annunciation]. Visual [large captions, clean fonts, and backgrounds our outlines around the text].

  • Use a good quality microphone and recording software. Tip: Mobile audio-recording apps, or video platforms like Zoom.
  • Try and record in an isolated room to remove external noise. Tip: Record on your smartphone, using headphones.
  • Avoid rooms with hard surfaces that will bounce sound. Tip: Soft materials absorb sound. Record in a walk-in closet, a room with carpet, or hang/lay some towels down.
  • Speak clearly and slowly, to give people time to process. Tip: A good pace is 100 words per minute. Take a breath pause between sentences or lines.
  • Use closed captions [SRT/VTT files] and a transcript [TXT] when possible. Make an open caption version [burned into the video directly] for social platforms. Tip: Using a transcript app like Descript allows you to export all the file types needed to upload captions, and have the text version for transcripts.


contact jess


A collection of internal and external resources Jess finds useful and cool.

resources list

A cappuccino cup and saucer against a teal wall. It has a gold handle and base, with whiskey written in all caps. Photo by Alexandra Del Bello.

Cappuccino mug labelled whiskey.