I was wondering for a html page which has two navigation options ( 1. Login method 2. Roles), is it just sufficient to provide a alt text to describe what they do?

Or should I try to have something more descriptive as a part of this navigation like:

  1. Login method - you can create, edit and delete login types and the group's associated.

  2. Roles- You can assign login types to roles and create, edit, delete and assign functions to these roles.

This question is more to make the web page 508 compliant. Keep in mind while answering the question that I cannot modify the actual label i.e. Login method and role. I just said it since people might say if I could make the actual label more descriptive :)

2 Answers 2


That alt attribute is meant to literally replicate the image-based text being rendered as an image.

If the image says "Login" then the alt attribute's value should be "Login".

If you feel that there needs to be a more verbose description, then that belongs in the "title" attribute, though I'd argue that if you feel there needs to be more of a description, that'd be true for ALL users and probably means the page content needs to be re-addressed.

To meet section 508, you need an alt attribute value. It's really a technical requirement and doesn't actually address the reality of specific implementations. It's a good thing to aim for, but true accessibility requires human review and testing.

  • 1
    +1 for "true accessibility requires human review and testing"
    – Rahul
    Aug 8, 2011 at 8:05
  • The alt should communicate the same information as its associated element - so it's not accurate to say "That alt attribute is meant to literally replicate the image-based text". The Login example is a case where a one-to-one correspondence is likely sufficient, but not all instances of elements that require alt text are as neat as this. Such an approach will fail an audit.
    – gef05
    Aug 8, 2011 at 13:21
  • 1
    @gary...true. I should have been more specific: If your image is text rendered as an image, then the alt attribute should literally mirror the text on the image, with occasional exceptions. If it's an image related to the content of the page, then a verbose description makes sense. If it's a purely decorative image, then a blank alt attribute is preferred.
    – DA01
    Aug 8, 2011 at 14:07
  • Sorry I made a mistake, I shouldn't have used alt tag in the question. I realized they are not using a image, if I m using <h1> or <nav> to show the actual navigation label i.e. login method. Do you see it helpful to have a <p> tag to explain the <nav> or <h1> in more detail? I think login method itself would have been enough if there was just a popup asking users to login with username password etc but login method in our case is actually doing a lot of configuration like account creation, group creation etc. Thanks
    – varun86
    Aug 8, 2011 at 14:11
  • @varun86 this is beginning to sound more like a copywriting question more so than accessibility.
    – DA01
    Aug 8, 2011 at 14:54

I would recommend using alt text to provide the most succinct description in the fewest possible words. Pick your words carefully. In both the label and sentences you provided above, grammar errors and vague word choice make either option hard to understand.

Login Management and Role Management are more common labels for these types of functions. If your application is for technical folks who are familiar with these concepts, just the labels will be sufficient. If your audience is not technically experienced, then you might want to also include brief descriptions such as:

Login Management: create, edit and delete login types and groups
Role Management: manage role functions and associated login types

  • I think the problem is the application is for both non-technical users as well as IT admin type users. If it was just for IT admin I wouldn't worry too much about giving description. Thanks Nadine
    – varun86
    Aug 8, 2011 at 14:10

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