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.
[May 21, 2020 update: Twitter now allows up to 1000 characters for alternative text.]
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:
- Upload the text image to Google Drive
- Once the file is uploaded, use the contextual menu (right-click or two fingers on touchpad)
- Select “Open with Google Docs”
- 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.
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.