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Screen reader won't read alt text for images inline with the text

New Here ,
May 25, 2023 May 25, 2023

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We're just starting to address/test our PDF accessibility; our screen reader is NVDA. We put images, like our icons, in line with the text. The first time we refer to them we give the name followed by the image, e.g., click the Save icon (image). After that we just show the image (see the example below). When we generate the PDF, it puts the alt text for the images at the end of the reading order. We can rearrange the order so the alt text is under the paragraph it applies to but, obviously, it won't let us put it in the correct spot in the paragraph. The only way around this we think is to never show just the icon but always name it. How do others handle this?

 

example_img.png

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Community Expert ,
May 25, 2023 May 25, 2023

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Hi @KLHindy, and welcome to the accessibility world!

 

Clarifying... It's not possible for Alt Text to end up at the end of the reading order. It's a attribute on the <Figure> tag (and other tags). So wherever the <Figure> tag is in your Tag Tree panel, Alt Text is there embedded within <Figure> (right-click, Properties, and view the Alt Text field). You won't see the Alt Text anywhere in any Acrobat panel.

 

There are many ways to handle accessibility of the icon you describe, and it depends upon how the document is used and its purpose. In order to help, can you answer a couple of questions?

 

  • What software are you using to create the original source document? — Word, PowerPoint, InDesign, etc.
  • How are you exporting to PDF? — File Export..., or File Save As....  Or the Acrobat ribbon if you're in MS Word?

 

In your snippet "and click (Save icon),"  you have to be clear that a screen reader doesn't think that by reading the instructions they'll also be saving IF they click on your icon that's in the text.  Or maybe they should do that? Hard to tell your intent.

 

So are these instructions for performing a sequence of steps or actions? If so, there are accessibility concerns right from the start:

  • Where is the icon located? Somewhere else in the document? On another page? In another document or webpage? Remember, someone who is blind doesn't have a clue where the little blue floppy disc icon is. You have to tell them where it is. Example:
    • You might write the body text and Alt Text this way: After completing this task, click the save button  example_img.png  and save the file to your computer or device.
    • In this example, use the word "button" which implies that there's an action that will be executed when the user clicks the icon. And the graphic may or may not be a graphic.  The body text around the icon gives all the information a user needs to understand what to do and what will happen when they click the button.
    • And since it's thoroughly described in the body text, the icon itself doesn't need Alt Text and you should artifact it.
  • If this icon is actually what you want someone to click right here and now, then a different strategy is used. You don't need to describe the icon but instead describe the action because it's being used as a live, clickable button. Example:
    • save example_img.png  and have the icon's Alt Text read "Save the File."

 

As you develop your accessible document, keep in mind that accessibility isn't just for those who use screen readers: the majority of our audiences have other disabilities and use other assistive technologies.

 

The goal is to make the document work for everyone, whether they have a disability or not and regardless of what technology they use. Therefore, the text around the icon is just as critical as the icon and its Alt Text.

 

Hope this helps. And as you learn the accessibility ropes, here's a public forum that's one of the best in the world: https://webaim.org/discussion/  It's unbiased, and has the most knowledgeable folks. You'll get a lot of good advice from the members.  The Adobe forum (this website) is really just about Adobe's products and not about accessibility, and there are only a handful of us who have any experience with accessibility at all.

 

|    Bevi Chagnon   |  Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
|    Classes & Books for Accessible InDesign, PDFs & MS Office |

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New Here ,
May 26, 2023 May 26, 2023

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Boy, I didn't except to get such a lecture about this question and I'm not going to respond to all of it. Our source is Word. I've tried many different ways to generate the PDF, and I think my Acrobat version is the one with some accessibility bugs. For my Figure tags, I see PathPathPath. With that said even in a PDF created by someone else that looks to have the correct tags, it's reading the alt text at the end sentence or at the end of the list or some spot other than where the image/alt text is in the paragraph. So I will research this elsewhere, like webaim as you suggest. 

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Community Expert ,
May 26, 2023 May 26, 2023

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In graphic files, "PathPathPath" is indicating that the graphic is made up of individual lines or "path"s in computer-ese. Although sighted users can see "PathPathPath" in the tag's yellow content container, it shouldn't be read by any screen reader. The Alt Text is what should be read.

 

Question: where is the <Figure> tag located in the tag tree: at the end of the sentence?

 

If you can upload a PDF with the problem, I'd be glad to review it for you.

 

 

|    Bevi Chagnon   |  Designer & Technologist for Accessible Documents
|    Classes & Books for Accessible InDesign, PDFs & MS Office |

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New Here ,
Jan 09, 2024 Jan 09, 2024

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Did you ever find a way around this?  I am having the same issue in a document created in Word then saved as PDF.

 

It reads ok if I use Edge to read the PDF (via NVDA) but if I read it in Adobe reader it reads the text, skips over the images and then reads the alt text out at the end of the page.

I have taken a small snippet of the document and created a test file to see if I can get it working but so far no luck.

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