Adding Alt Text to an Image in Word for Office 365

Alt Text description of book on the post's featured image: "Microsoft Word document displaying the image of the book cover Frank and Beanswith an alt text pane showing on the right side of the screen. The text box includes the following alt text: A boy with brown hair and a red jersey kneeling down to pet a dog."

One of the ways to make digital materials accessible for students with visual impairment or blindness is a to add alt text. Alt text adds an image description to a picture that is read aloud by a screen reader to provide the individual information about the image. 

Today, alt text can be added to images in word processing documents, digital accessible books, webpages, and images posted on social media. As software continues to be improved, it has become easier to add alt text. Since my students access materials using different devices, I add alt text to all images in books created using Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and the Book Creator App. Alt text is also added to all images in digital materials provided to academic nonvisual learners. The students’ teachers and paraprofessionals are taught how to add alt text to images in their own documents, as the TVI does not have the time do this. 

Digital books with images can be downloaded from Bookshare in a Word format. When I downloaded the book Frank and Beansby Kathy-jo Wargin, alt text was not added to each picture. I added alt text to each image so the student can access the book using Google Drive on her iPad with Voiceover and a refreshable braille display. When Word documents are uploaded to Google Drive and opened using Google Docs, the alt text is preserved and is accessible with a screen reader. 

 Below are steps to add alt text to an image in Word for Office 365. 

  • Right click the image and select “Edit Alt Text”
    • An Alt Text pane will appear on the right side of the screen.
  • Write a short description of the picture in the text box, no more than 1-2 sentences.

Computer screenshot of a picture in Microsoft Word with the Alt text pane opened on the right side.

Image: Microsoft Word document with an image of a boy riding a bike and the alt text pane showing on the right side of the screen. The text box includes the following alt text: A boy wearing a helmet and riding a bike past a house with a sign that says “puppies for sale.”

For information about adding alt text to previous versions of Microsoft Word, I’d recommend referring to Microsoft’s website. 

There are also many YouTube videos that demonstrate how to add alt text to images and objects in a Word document, Power Point presentation, Excel spread sheet, Google Doc, etc.