cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Highlighted
Community Member

How to add long descriptions to embedded images?

Jump to solution

Does anyone have experience using long descriptions for complex images embedded in Canvas? I've already tried editing the html to add the longdesc attribute to an image, but after I save the page, the longdesc attribute is removed. Is longdesc not supported?

Basically, I've got a bunch of diagrams which are embedded in quiz questions. The descriptions of the diagrams are much too long to use alt text. 

Using longdesc would be the best option, but if it won't work, maybe I have to actually create a visible link below each image that links out to an accessible text version?

Any suggestions? Thanks!

1 Solution

Accepted Solutions
Highlighted
Surveyor II

The longdesc attribute has been deprecated. The best solution I have found is to put the image description in a Word document, upload it to Files (maybe a folder for image descriptions?) and then link it below the image, That way people can preview it on the page or download it. I tried creating an HTML file and doing the same thing, but you don't get the preview option that way.

View solution in original post

8 Replies
Highlighted
Surveyor II

The longdesc attribute has been deprecated. The best solution I have found is to put the image description in a Word document, upload it to Files (maybe a folder for image descriptions?) and then link it below the image, That way people can preview it on the page or download it. I tried creating an HTML file and doing the same thing, but you don't get the preview option that way.

View solution in original post

Highlighted

Thanks so much, Sonya! This makes perfect sense. I am going to add a link to the description under the images, and I'll experiment with using either pages or files. Much appreciated!

Highlighted

Aloha, glad that was helpful. Curious what you find out using Pages.

Highlighted

Hi Sonya. I floated this idea by our accessibility specialist and he was concerned that this approach would be unfamiliar to students using screen readers who are used to long description tags.

Have you tested how this workaround works with screen readers? And do students using screen readers know how to get the information they need? Any input you have on this would be appreciated!

Highlighted

Ali,

Great question. Admittedly, I don't think this solution is optimal because students using screen readers will have to know how to download and read a Word document when they get to in the course, and they will have to read content on a different platform. Also the Word document itself has to be accessible. Our full process is to alert screen reader users to the presence of the long description by using the alt attribute to say, "Full description below the image." in addition to a short image description. And we use descriptive link text for the image description content, so it is clear what the link is for. The link is also part of the image caption so that it is associated with the image programmatically. That is done regardless of how the description is provided.

This is what JAWS says when the description is linked below the image:

"Graphic 3 levels of strategic thinking - description below image. Figure 7.1. Strategic Thinking Levels. Source: TalentLens Link Figure 7.1 Text Description."

If by long description tags, you mean the longdesc attribute, that method has been deprecated, and is not browser supported. The other downside of using that is that sighted students don't know a text version is available unless you add another link, and I think some students would benefit from the content being presented in another way.

A better option would be to use a show/hide link below the image so the content is on the same page as the image in HTML Code. That is what we normally do since our course content is usually not in Canvas. Penn State has not enabled javascript in our instance of Canvas, so our content creators choose to put all the content in Canvas, we have no accessible way to add a show/hide link, so linking a Word doc seems like the next best thing.

Ideally there would be an easy way for content authors to add a long description to an image in any platform so that the description is associated with the image and available to all.

We currently have a student who is blind in a course with many long descriptions provided in linked Word documents. I did provide him some information about the course structure at the beginning of the semester. Now that he has completed the course, I am checking with with his disability specialist to verify that this approach worked for him. I will keep you posted.

Highlighted

Thanks Sonya, for the thoughtful and helpful response! I would love to hear about your student's experience with the approach after you talk to him. 

Highlighted

As a follow-up to this conversation, I met with the student who is blind and who just finished a course with about 40 images that included long descriptions provided as Word documents, and he said those were great. He loved being able to understand the content provided in the images and had no complaints about getting that information in a Word document. He did say that if the description was 3 or 4 sentences, he would prefer to get that in the image alt text.

Highlighted

Thank you so much for the update! This is very helpful.