Accessibility for charts, graphs and infographics

Web accessibility has always been a requirement for UMaine websites, and Digital Communications will be increasing our efforts to improve the accessibility of web content on in the coming year. The term “accessibility” refers to our efforts to remove barriers that prevent access to websites by people who have a disability. This month, we will focus on how charts, graphs and infographics can adhere to accessibility best practices.

Charts and graphs:
When a chart or graph is used on a website, the text alternative for the image (alt text) should not recreate the entire data set that created the image. Instead, provide the “takeaway” message that you intend the viewer to understand from the content.

When possible, a link to the data file should be provided in a common format such as Excel or a comma separated value file. This will allow visitors who rely on screen reader technology to digest the data using software and tools on their computer.

When infographics are used that are not charts and graphs, the alt text should reflect the content of the infographic if the text is brief (one to two sentences). For denser infographics, an explanation of the infographic that gives the same information should be provided in text form on the same page, which would provide an alternative, comparable experience for visitors relying on assistive technology.

Organizational charts:
A common, useful infographic for a website is the “org chart” and such charts are difficult to make accessible. Our advice is to recreate the chart as a bulleted outline/list, using indented bullets to indicate subordinates, peers, supervisors and departments. For simple org charts, the bulleted list may be easier to keep up to date, and will provide text that search engines can understand.