The #1 way to Engage and Delight Blind and Partially Sighted People with Your LinkedIn Posts
Updated: May 5
Imagine you've polished your next LinkedIn post.
You know who you're writing for. Your post is engaging. Your image is commanding. You click publish and breathe deeply. You’re done.
But somehow things aren’t working.
You’re not getting the likes, comments, and support your post deserves from the disability community. Your post isn’t sending the business message you’re hoping for.
What’s going on? Then, you spot one of those epic, Jamie Shields (Registered Blind ADHD Rhino) posters about Alt text. And, you start to wonder…can alt text help you turn your message into a strong post? A post that’s engaging and valuable for blind and partially sighted people?
In this post, you’ll learn 3 big things about Alt text so you can start including people with visual disabilities.
What is alt text and why it’s important
A useful structure to use it
Why it’s all-powerful for SEO traffic
Are you ready?
Alt text in simple words
An eye-catching photo without alt text is like a dazzling room without light.
Nobody peeks into the room to see what’s inside. Nobody turns on the light to notice its charm.
So, if you want people with visual disabilities to glimpse inside the room, promise them a generous vision. Alt text. What is Alt text?
”It’s the short text you see describing an image or a graphic on a LinkedIn post. It’s also called "alt attributes" or “alt descriptions". Why is it helpful? Because, when a blind or partially sighted person uses a screen reader to view your post they’ll know what your photo is about.
Ever wondered what alt text looks like? Here’s an example from one of my LinkedIn posts:
Easy, right? But what would happen if you don’t add alt text to your image? This is what LinkedIn has to say:
Now, let’s imagine you’re trying to load an image and for technical reasons, the image gets stuck.
What happens then? You guessed it. Alt text pops up instead of the image, like this:
When you use alt text with your images you’re welcoming all users to understand and enjoy your trustworthy content.
Not only that, but you want your LinkedIn posts to be appreciated. Am I right? Avoid publishing images for the sake of views and likes.
Always aim to be inclusive and supportive of people with visual disabilities and use alt text. Here's something you probably don't know. I recently published an article on LinkedIn and uploaded a header image. The alt text was created it from the caption that I entered in my post. And, if you read the article, the alt text is in place.
However, Clive Loseby, global leader in website accessibility expertly pointed out that my post about the article previews the image, but does not show the Alt tag. Here's an image of the LinkedIn alt tag test.
Needless to say this is not good not to mention it killed my post.
But, LinkedIn listened and are now trying to fix the problem. If you want to know more about Clive and his work check out his LinkedIn profile.
Now, as you might expect, the option to add alt text to images is available on every social media platform.
A useful structure for writing alt text
You might think Alt text is for UX designers or social media experts. For accessibility authorities. Not for entrepreneurs like you and me. But that’s not true. Using Alt text is easy and it can help you captivate any audience. There are 3 key points to remember.
1. Keep it short
The purpose of Alt text is to provide an explanation of the image for those who can’t see it. Here’s an example:
OK alt text: <img src="Lia_Stoll.png" alt="Woman">
Good alt text <img src="Lia_Stoll.png" alt="Woman smiling"
Great alt text <img scr="Lia_Stoll.png"alt="Blond white woman with glasses smiling"> I know what you’re thinking:
What happens when an image is meant to sit pretty. These images are called “decorative images”.
I’ll be straight up with you, I didn’t know more.
That’s when I asked Aditya Bikkani for his help.
Aditya is an entrepreneur in the Accessibility industry. His latest venture is AdvancedBytez, a full service Accessibility agency that focuses on building automation products."
Here’s what he had to say:
“In cases of decorative images, an empty alt text should be used, alt="".
Empty alt text is ignored by assistive technologies and it’s not announced. It might be tempting to completely leave out the alt attribute in the HTML just because an image is decorative, but it is not advisable as the screen reader will announce the file name of the image instead.” And, here is a juicy tip he gives so we can be sure when an image is decorative or not.
“It is up to the discretion of the author to determine whether an image is decorative or not. If in doubt, always ask yourself this question:
“What are the consequences if I don’t use an image here?”
If your answer is, “No consequence”, then it is a decorative image."
Bikkani then follows up with a great example, page separators.
“We often find that page separators are images on web pages and this is a great example of a decorative image because it does not convey any information. It is appropriate to use an empty alt=” tag at this moment to ensure a screen reader skips the element.” Want to nudge him for more accessibility tidbits? Here’s Aditya Bikkani on LinkedIn.
So the obvious question now is:
What do you do if you want to describe complex images like maps, charts, or diagrams? Since these images contain in-depth information, you’ll need a two-part text alternative. The first part is a short description identifying the image and, the second part is a long description – giving the essential information.
You can also use the alt text to direct them to a document giving a more detailed description.
Want to learn more about using accessibility best practices? Go to Web Accessibility Initiative Complex Images Tutorial.
2. Be specific
It's easy to get lost when learning to use alt text. But, LinkedIn now gives you a long lead of 1000 characters to play with. My point? Start off communicating in a clear, purposeful way, describing what’s important based on the context of your image.
Here’s an example with alt text in different contexts.
Alt-text with no context:
Four people and a dog.
Alt-text on a page about recent funding: Lara Guide Dog School PR team, three women, a man, and a dog.
Alt-text on a page about guide dogs:
Lara Guide Dog School team, three women, a man, and a German Shepherd guide dog.
Does this make sense to you?
Oh, one more thing. Sometimes, I see excess words like, “this is an image of” or "the title says or the text says”. These aren’t necessary. My best tip to keep you on track? Close your eyes and have someone read the alt text to you. If you can imagine an accurate version of the image, you're good to go.
Which leads me to my next tip.
3. Grab SEO attention with alt text
Do you find it hard to imagine how alt text can be good for SEO? It’s true.
When we think of alt text, user experience and accessibility, spring to mind. But, if your image is effective, it will surface and rank better in image searches, too.
You see, search engine image recognition technology can't "see" the image on your post. And, although LinkedIn may automatically generate alt text for you, chances are it won’t always be what you’re looking for. For example, it could rank unintended keywords or drop you out on ranking altogether.
Don't let this be you. So go ahead.
Be an authority in meaningful communication
Dazzling posts with images communicate your message best.
Images lacking alt-text try to impress rather than communicate. Now, you have the advantage. Release your own accessibility wizard and pick your words with care and precision. Make blind and partially sighted people crave your next post. And make them fall in love with your LinkedIn social media.
Happy Alt text writing!