How to add alt text to images in iWork documents (Mac version)

For my work I often collaborate with a good friend who happens to be blind. We both really like the iWork applications in general but as a user of VoiceOver, Apple's built-in screen reader, she finds the iWork apps to be one of the more accessible options for productivity apps.

Often times the documents that we create are very robust and include images, videos, and audio. When I add audio or video to the project she is able to interact with those elements easily. But if I add an image often times the screen reader will only give her the name of the image which can sometimes just be a series of letters and numbers. Luckily I work has a built-in tool to make these images more accessible.

When you create a webpage that includes an image you have the option of adding something called alt text. Alt text is basically a short text description of the image. This way when a screen reader comes across the image instead of simply reading out the name which can be unhelpful it instead reads the alt text describing the image to the user. Pages, Keynote, and Numbers allow you to add descriptions to images, much like alt text on a website, which will be read when a screen reader comes across that image. Often times this description will carry over when you export your document to a different format. For example if you turn a Pages document into an EPUB file the image description will be used when the screen reader reads the book in an app that can read EPUB documents like iBooks.

To add a description to an image in the Mac version of Pages, Keynote, or Numbers just follow these steps:

1. Click on an image in your document to select it.
. Click on the format button on the right hand side of the toolbar.

Screen Shot of Keynote with a red circle around the Format button

3. Click on the Image tab in the Inspector on the right hand side of the screen.
4. You will see a text box named description. Type the image description here.

Screen shot of the Description text box in iWork.

That's it. If you are familiar with VoiceOver, go ahead and turn it on and test it out. Now when you share your iWork document with a colleague who uses a VoiceOver, they'll get a nice description when they navigate to the image.