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This content was published: July 24, 2017. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Introducing the “Complex Images for All Learners” handbook

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A Cover of the Complex Images for All Learners handbook

Why do complex images matter for accessibility?

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

Imagine you have an assignment that requires students to read a graph. It’s not a problem for sighted people to attain all the information in the image and they can complete the assignment easily. What about visually impaired students? How can they access the image the same way as sighted student does?

Video: How a screen reader interact with an image without and with Alternate (Alt) tag.

Distance Education is proud to present a new Complex Images for All Learners handbook designed and developed by Supada Amornchat, Alternate Media Format Technician here at PCC. This handbook is purposely designed to use as a resource to eliminate barriers and make equal effective learning for every student.

There are many types of complex images. In this handbook, we focus on the complex images that have been commonly used at PCC, based on my experience as an alternate media formats technician. Complex images include pie charts, bar charts, line graphs, flowcharts, diagram charts, illustrations, math graphs, and maps.

So how can we do to make complex images accessible?

Complex images can be made accessible in a variety of ways including keeping the image in the same format, adding text description as a caption, as well converting data images to lists and data tables. Graphs, charts, diagrams, and maps can be printed as tactile graphics. Most images are accessed with assistive technology. Only tactile graphics require touching to feel embossed surfaces.

A sample of converting a diagram in 3 different accessible formats, description, lists and tactile graphic.

A sample of the Complex Images for All Learners Handbook

This handbook provides guidelines and best practices. It also illustrates examples of different types of complex images and reveals other types of alt formats, such as 3D printing, EPUB, and Sonification.

This handbook will be available in electronic PDF and print formats. It is licensed under Creative Commons, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. To download the electronic formats, go to our Online Accessibility website or Google Drive. If you are an online instructor and wish to receive the free print handbook, please send the request to onlineaccess@pcc.edu.

The matter of accessible complex images for all learners can vastly expand learning boundaries.