Quick Tip: How to Convert Image Text to Text

When our local school district shared crucial news about school breakfast and lunch meals for students during the Michigan school shutdown, they shared the information in a text image.

On the school website. And on Instagram.

With no text explaining the content inside the image.

Which meant the text content in the image wasn’t accessible to everyone.

I noticed immediately and contacted the district about it, asking them for the URL to the page for the text of the image.

I said I knew they wanted to make their content available to everyone. And I explained that images of text aren’t accessible to people who are blind or use assistive technology.

I never received a reply.

But a short time later, I noticed the school district added the text adjacent to the image on their breakfast and lunch news page.

And edited their Instagram post to include the text inside the image.

What’s the Problem?

For the past month, I’ve seen an increase in the number of images of text shared on social media and websites.

Many text images are sharing information about the coronavirus pandemic, with useful updates for the community or steps you as an individual can take to stay safe.

Or uplifting quotes to share positive thoughts.

And the images contain so much text that it’s impossible to add alternative text to the image itself, due to restrictions of the social media channel.

Or because the person who shared the text image isn’t aware of the need for providing alternative text.

Which means the image isn’t accessible to people who have low vision, are blind, or use assistive technology.

Or people who speak another language and use translation software to convert the text to their language.

When you share images of text, whether on social media or your website, you need to provide alternative text so the content is available for everyone.

That can mean adding an alternative text attribute or providing the text with the image.

But what happens when the text is too long, as it was with our local school district?

You need to convert the text in the image to plain text. Read on for the solution I use regularly.

How to Convert Image Text to Text Using Google Docs

There are dozens of online solutions for converting image text to text. The solution that’s worked best for me is Google Docs.

Given you’ve saved the text image to your computer (you can follow similar steps on any digital device), here are the steps I use to convert a text image to text:

  1. Upload the text image to Google Drive
  2. Once the file is uploaded, use the contextual menu (right-click or two fingers on touchpad)
  3. Select “Open with Google Docs
  4. A new Google Docs file is created, with the image at the top of a new Google Docs file. The converted text displays underneath the image

You can now edit the text, change formatting, or correct any typos.

Google Docs converted the text in the image correctly, there were no typos I needed to correct.

Since the school district used multiple fonts, multiple styles, and low-contrast colors in their image, I chose to standardize their formatted text with one color. And make the URL readable.

Here’s the converted text for their image:

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools
Globally Focused, Locally Connected.

Breakfast & lunch free to all kids
Families are welcome to come pick up meals for kids on a weekly basis during the school closure period, starting on Wednesday, March 18.

Confirmed Locations: Salem HS, Starkweather Academy, Discovery Middle School, Liberty Middle School, West Middle School, Eriksson Elementary

Tentative Pickup Times: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

More details will follow as more planning is confirmed.

Stay posted to the official district website for further information!
USDA is an equal-opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Wrapping Up

When you publish text in an image, it’s not usable or accessible to everyone. Best practice is to publish your content as text, so everyone can access it.

If you must publish text in in image, add alternative text. Here’s what you need to know about image alternative text in Twitter.

Or use Google Docs to convert the text in the image to text. And include the text with your image.

Photo of author

About the Author

Deborah Edwards-Onoro helps small businesses, consultants, nonprofits, and higher ed with creative and distinctive websites. Deborah shares her expertise with web design, user experience, and accessibility on her blog, social media, and at meetup events. As organizer of Refresh Detroit, West Metro Detroit WordPress, and Metro Detroit WordPress, she encourages members to share their knowledge and experiences. In her free time, you'll find her birding, shooting photos, reading, or watching tennis.

4 thoughts on “Quick Tip: How to Convert Image Text to Text”

  1. This is timely, as I encountered a “form” in a project I’m doing. It was a JPG. I pointed out it was inaccessible, but now I have a solution if they can’t find the original document!

  2. Hi Amy,

    Glad you found it useful! Sorry you have to deal with the form. I wish I had this solution when I worked at the community college web services team. We had dozens of images posted by departments which we had to convert ourselves, by typing all the text out.

  3. Often, the party making the post either created or commissioned a team member to create the image. In which case, they already have the original text and do not need any OCR or conversion method. This means there is something else missing in the current workflow – requesting the original text along with the image.

    Important note: alt text is limited to 125 characters for most assistive technology. So for longer text, one should make a series of posts or a thread.

  4. Hi Charles,

    Thank you for your comment. That may be the case for many organizations, but not all. My experience at the college was different. Text wasn’t available for dozens of legacy images posted by departments. We had to type all the text ourselves. I’m curious about your reference to 125 characters. You know Twitter allows up to 480 characters for alternative text?

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