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Digital Accessibility

Linked Images

Some images are used as links or buttons. When the main function of an image is not to communicate visual information, alt text should describe the destination of the link or function of the button instead of the visual image.

Writing Alt Text for Linked Images

Linked images require alt text no matter what, and involve a few additional considerations for accessibility.

1. Never mark linked images as decorative.

WCAG Level AA standards require alt text for any image serving as a link. Even if the image would otherwise be considered decorative, you will need to write alt text if the image is a link.

2. Consider surrounding text.

Do not repeat any text around the image, especially any link text nearby. Instead, describe the additional visual information the image is communicating.

3. Include any and all text in the image.

You must include all text in the image, just like you would when writing alt text any other time.

4. Avoid saying "Link to" or "Click to" in alt text.

Screen readers automatically identify all links by saying "link" or "clickable graphic." Using words like "Link to..." or "Click to..." is redundant and confusing for those navigating the page with a screen reader.


Example: Alt Text for Linked Images

  • A linked image of 650 Lincoln from an image grid of housing options on campus. The building is described as apartment living for upperclassmen students, near the Strom Thurmond Fitness Center.

Describing the Image

1. Consider surrounding text.

The text link near this image says the name of the building and text next that gives a brief summary. Do not merely repeat this information in the alt text for this linked image.

2. Including image text.

The image does identify this building as 650 Lincoln, so while you won't repeat just the building name,  you should include it as a natural part of your alt text.

3. Describe what the image is communicating visually.

If the summary and building name were enough to describe this residence hall, you wouldn't need a photo of the property at all. The photo communicates something more visually that you need to describe via alt text.

What the Image Communicates
In this case, the image conveys what this residence hall is like and what it might be like to live there, especially in comparison to the other options available at the university. It tells students why they might or might not choose this one housing option over another. The alt text should capture that message, which is otherwise unavailable to those who cannot see the image.


Alt Text Examples

Bad Alt Text: 650 Lincoln link

Clear, Descriptive Alt Text: A sign for 650 Lincoln sits in the foreground, with small trees and lots of green space in front of an apartment building with multiple stories. 

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