Why infographics are not accessible

In the visual world of social media a popular content called infographics is creating accessibility barriers.

What are infographics?

These infographics are a collection of images, shapes, colours and text placed into a single image, then posted and shared across social media. There purpose is to give a quick snap shot of some content, that can be easily shared, branded and placed within blogs or other content.

Why are they not accessible?

The mixed content placed into a single image has more information than what is suitable for a simple alt text and in most cases do not have full text equivalent content placed adjacent or linked to from the infographic.

This results in people who can not see the infographic image being left in the dark. Often these images have no alt text at all. Plus because the text content is placed inside the image, people can not scale the text up or change colour or font.

What can we do to change this?

I believe the way forward is to make better use of SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). This will both allow for clear scaling and assistive technologies can programmatically access text and other components of the image.

There is already research being done on how to make charts and diagrams more accessible through SVG2.0 and I believe the same can be done for infographics.

Conclusion

Remember that visual only content is no value to those who can not see it. The same as audio only content has no value to those who can not hear it. Text alternatives are the first guideline of WCAG2.0 Level A and not providing suitable text alternatives for infographics will break this guideline.

We are not saying to never use images or infographics it’s quite the oposit. Instead we are saying that there are always sufficient alternative text content made available to ensure they are accessible to everyone.

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