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Digital Accessibility

Charts & Diagrams Alt Text

When communicating complex information, it's common to display what you're trying to convey in terms of a chart, diagram or other visual representation. Those with certain types of disabilities will not be able to interact with this information in the format of a visual, but you can make it accessible to them in a couple of different ways.

Charts and Diagrams in Videos

If you are presenting a chart or diagram in a video, which is common during class sessions and educational video supplements, you must describe the information in the chart or diagram audibly as you ask that others engage with the visual. In most situations, this may not be any different from what you already do to describe a concept presented visually, but it is a requirement for digital accessibility. 

Providing Accessible Documents or Web Pages

If you choose to provide an additional accessible document or web page that describes the chart or diagram, that may be helpful for some who are trying to understand the information. However, it is not an alternative to describing the chart or diagram out loud if the visual is presented in a video.


Making Charts and Diagrams Accessible as Images

If you're sharing your chart or diagram as an on-screen image, you have a few options for communicating the information in a non-visual way for those who, for whatever reason, cannot see it.

Write Alt Text to Describe the Information in Words

You can add alt text as you would to any other image, describing the information and relationships communicated in the chart or diagram. Since alt text does not allow for paragraph breaks or formatting, your description may get very long or convoluted. If that's the case, you can make an accessible spreadsheet or other document with your data. 

Present Data in a Separate, Accessible Document


If your data or information can be presented in a spreadsheet, you can create an accessible spreadsheet document and provide the link to the accessible document in a readily available place near the image of the chart or diagram .

Word Documents and PDFs

If your data or information is better described using headings and paragraph text, you can create an accessible Word document or PDF where you write out the description of the chart or diagram and provide the to the accessible document link in a readily available place near the image of the chart or diagram. 

Describe the Information On-Screen

If the content on the screen describes the exact same same information that is presented in your chart or diagram and someone who could not see the chart or diagram would not lose any information by not being able to see it, you do not need to write alt text or provide an accessible document because you have already provided an accessible way of engaging with the information.


Example of Describing a Diagram

The information in the diagram below would not be available to those who cannot see the image unless the diagram is also presenting as a spreadsheet or described in words. 

  • Clear, Descriptive Alt Text or Accessible Description for the Above Diagram

    You probably wouldn't use a spreadsheet for the above diagram, so if you were to describe it in words, either in alt text, on-screen, in a separate document or verbally, it might go something like the following:

    A flow chart of the hierarchy of roles in the digital accessibility program at the University of South Carolina. The Chief Information Office (CIO) is on their own row at the top of the hierarchy with the Director of Digital Accessibility, Office of Digital Strategy Representatives, and Student Disability Resource Center Representatives on the same line below the CIO. Accessibility liaisons are on the next row below, showing that they respond to all of the roles above. These five roles make up the Digital Accessibility Committee, the core group responsible for digital product accessibility compliance at UofSC. The next set of roles makes up the Implementation Team, individuals that daily manage and update digital content and properties. They must be trained and conversant in digital accessibility guidelines and best practices. Accessibility Liaisons are also part of this team. Site Managers and Business Owners along with Content Creators are on the row below Accessibility Liaisons, with double arrows between these three roles to show their collaborative relationship.

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