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  • Media Type Adobe Acrobat PDF > Non-text Elements
  • State Active
  • Advisory No

Alternative text must be present to communicate the meaning of images to users of assistive technologies and text-only browsers.

Compliant Example

The alternative text property is set on the image.

// pseudo-code //
<Figure alt="Photo of Bull Run Mountain in Fall">
 <OBJR />

Non-Compliant Example

An image in a PDF file does not set alternative text property.

// pseudo-code //
 <OBJR />

The developer must add appropriate alternative text for images within the Tag tree element's Properties window or with the TouchUp Reading Order Tool. Place the text in the "alternative text" field and ensure it is concise and meaningful replacement for the image. For example, when describing a picture of a red balloon, entering "red balloon" will be more helpful than "This is a picture of a red balloon". Close the TouchUp Properties dialog and then save the document.

If the image does not convey any meaning, such as a spacer image or separation line, or is redundant to adjacent text, the element may be defined as an Artifact element in the tags tree. Making an image an Artifact in Acrobat has essentially the same justification and criteria as giving an img tag a null alt (alt="") in HTML. Both methods allow assistive technologies to reliably ignore such images.

To make an image an Artifact, select the tag for the image in the Tags panel, and activate the context menu. Choose the Artifact option, then select the OK button.

Organization Standards

  • § 508-1194.22 Web Sites and Applications
    • (a) Text equivalent of non-text items
  • Section 508 and 255 (Revised 2017)
    • Chapter 3: Functional Performance Criteria
      • 302.1 Without Vision
  • WCAG 2.0 Level A
    • 1.1.1 Provide text alternatives for all non-text content
  • WCAG 2.1 Level A
    • 1.1.1 Non-text Content

Other Mapped Standards

  • § 508-1194.21 Software Applications and Operating Systems
    • (d) Information about a user interface element must be textually available
  • § 508-1194.31 Functional performance criteria
    • (a) Ensure access for blind and visually impaired
  • BITV 2.0 (Priority I)
    • 1.1.1 Nicht-Text-Inhalte
  • HHS PDF 508 Checklist
    • 2.0 Document Image Requirements
      • (15) Do all images, grouped images, and non-text elements that convey information have alternative text descriptions?
  • HHS PDF 508 Checklist (2014)
    • 4.0 Document Images Requirement
      • (4.4) Do all images, grouped images, and nontext elements that convey information have meaningful alternative-text descriptions?
  • JIS X 8341-3: 2004 - Technical Standards Subpart 5
    • 5.4 (a) Provide appropriate alternative text for images.
  • NFB Certification
    • Pictures and Graphics
  • WCAG 1.0 Priority 1
    • 01.1 Lack of textual equivalents for non-text elements.
  • WCAG 2.2 Level A
    • 1.1.1 Non-text content
  • Severity

    10 (red)
    in range of 1 to 10
  • Noticeability

    10 ()
    in range of 1 to 10
  • Tractability

    2 ()
    in range of 1 to 10