Images with Impact: Accessing Images (Part 3)

white hand on images patchwork
image source

Images can be a great visual tool especially in ESL, but the process in making them technologically effective can be overwhelming. This post is the third and final post of a 3-part series of Images with Impact by John Allan.


Placement of Images

Word Processors are the most common authoring tool used by teachers to create learning objects or LOs. Generally, worksheets are the most common kind of LO. The Microsoft Word word processor offers two practical ways of positioning images in a LO.  The first is using tables.  Tables are a standard feature in word processors.  The image occupies a single cell in a document.  The table is then positioned within the documents as the instructor deems appropriate.

The alternate means of positioning an image in an LO is using the numerous options in the Picture Tools menu.  The Position Object feature allows the instructor to set the position of an image and the text will automatically flow around the image.  The Text Wrap feature allows the editor the ability to set how the text will flow around or through images on an image-by-image basis.

Accessibility of Images

In the spirit of following document accessibility, here are a few tips to consider while using images to create LOs. Images should contrast with the background.  An example of this is a dark blue logo on a white background or a white-bordered picture on a black background.   Word Processors have an image border feature that allows the instructor to create borders around images to create contrast.

If the LO is intended to be used on a digital platform such as a learning management system, then images should have a descriptive ALT text for meaningful image. ALT Texts are hidden descriptions of images, which are read aloud to sightless users through a screen reader. If images are used only for decoration, then leave do not add ALT so that assistive technologies users may skip over it.  This includes screen readers such as JAWS.

Using ALT text leads to some confusion, as there is also the option of including a caption for images.  If both the ALT text and the image caption were used, the screen reader would repeat the ALT text and the caption.  It is not as easy as thinking that we can use one or the other.  ALT text is important for screen readers but sighted users may require captions to allow them to acquire information that could be contained within the ALT text. It is suggested that the ALT text is kept to a few short word to describe the image and the caption can be more descriptive, even providing additional information.

It is also a good practice to set the Wrap Text setting to “Inline with Text”.  Usually, this is the default setting.

If an image is used as a link to other Internet resource, the ALT text should describe the result of selecting the link’s destination and not the context of the image itself.

I hope that these tips help instructors with images issues while creating their own learning objects.  If you have any other tips or issues related to images please post a comment below.


Resources referenced:

JAWS Screen Reader



3 thoughts on “Images with Impact: Accessing Images (Part 3)”

  1. Thanks, John. I’ve really enjoyed this three-part series of posts and have learned a lot. I’ve actually decided to take a graphics course this year, too. It’s something I really enjoy learning about.

    1. Kelly, you are most welcome. Thanks for your contributions and I hope that your course is rewarding. I have just completed three workshops at my insitution using Pixlr for image editing and image optimization. They were lots of fun and the teachers were positive with their feedback.

  2. Kelly, you and others who are pondering drawing their own images or acquiring hand drawings may find this article useful from the Rapid e-learning Blog .
    Hand drawn images
    I hope it is useful!


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