A long description is a way to provide long alternative text for non-text elements, such as images. Generally, alternative text exceeding 250 characters, which cannot be made more concise without making it less descriptive or meaningful, should have a long description. Examples of suitable use of long description are charts, graphs, maps, infographics, and other complex images.

Like alternative text, long description should be descriptive and meaningful. It should also include all text that is incorporated into the image. A long description should provide visually-impaired users with as much information as sighted users would understand from the image.

There are four components to creating a long description in the Waterloo Content Management System (WCMS):

  • A web page containing the long description.
  • An alternative text that describes the overall image.
  • A URL to the web page in the "Long Description URL" field.
  • A link to the long description web page for sighted users (recommended).

  1. Create a long description web page.
    1. Navigate: My Workbench > Create/Manage Content > Web Page.
    2. Select + Add web page link.
      Add web page button.
    3. In Heading field, enter the heading of the page where the image will reside, and add "alternative text" at the end.
      "Example alternative text" entered in Title field.
    4. In Body field, enter the long description of the image (see tips on creating long description).
    5. Under Menu settings, set the Parent item (preferably, under the page where the image will reside).
      Example set as the parent item of Example alternative text web page.
    6. Uncheck Add menu link field.
      Add menu link box unchecked.
    7. Save and Publish.
    8. Copy the URL.
      URL of the web page holding the long alternative text.
  2. On the page where the image will reside, insert the image and enter alternative text that describes the overall image.
    "Subtractive color mixing" entered in the alternative text field.
  3. Add long description to the image.
    1. Right-click on the image, and select Image Properties.
      Image Properties option selected.
    2. Click Advanced tab.
      Image Properties Advanced tab.
    3. In Long Description URL field, paste the copied URL.
      Long alt text web page URL entered in the Long Description URL field.
    4. Click OK button.
      Selecting the OK button.
  4. Create an internal link to the long description web page. Either link the image itself or create a link in the image caption (see Example below).
    Internal link set to the Example alternative text web page.
  5. Save and Publish.


Subtractive color mixing.