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Universal Design Tips for Accessible Reporting: Alt Text

Universal Design Tips for Accessible Reporting: Alt Text

In this blog post, Greg Trzeciak focuses on enhancing report accessibility using alt text. Alt text, or alternative text descriptions, are crucial for making reports more universally designed and accessible, especially for visually impaired users who rely on screen readers.


Understanding Alt Text

Alt text provides a textual description of visuals in reports, aiding screen reader users in understanding the content. It is an essential feature for accessibility, yet often overlooked.

  • Purpose: Alt text describes the appearance and function of visuals, like images or charts, within reports.
  • Usage: It allows screen readers to convey additional information about visuals to the user.

Implementing Alt Text in Reports

Greg outlines the steps to add alt text in visualizations:

  1. Locating Alt Text Option: In the visualizations pane, go to 'Format your visual', scroll down to find the alt text option (location may vary based on preview settings).
  2. Character Limit: An alt text box has a 250-character limit.
  3. Screen Readers: There are various screen readers available, such as Windows Narrator, JAWS (Job Access With Speech), and NVDA.

Practical Examples and Tips

Greg demonstrates practical examples of using alt text in a Power BI report.

  • Example: He shows how to navigate to 'Format this visual' and enter an alt text description.
  • Pro Tip: Initially, use alt text for personal notes, which later remind you to provide a proper description for screen reader users.

Case Study: Line Chart Description

Greg provides a specific example of describing a line chart:

  • Content: The description might detail the comparison between female and male dogs over a period (1990 to 2021) using different colors for each.
  • Conditional Formatting: Alt text can be dynamically adjusted using conditional formatting, offering tailored descriptions based on certain thresholds.

Enhancing Accessibility with Alt Text

Alt text is a powerful tool for making reports accessible, but it's essential to consider how it will be read by screen readers.

Managing Screen Reader Output

  • View Tab Navigation: Greg points out the importance of the 'View' tab in Power BI, which allows for managing how screen readers interpret alt text.
  • Tab Order: Adjusting the tab order ensures that the screen reader follows a logical data storytelling flow.

Key Takeaways for Universal Report Design

Greg emphasizes the importance of universal design in report creation, where designing for accessibility benefits all users.

  • Universal Design Class: Pragmatic Works offers a class with more insights and tips on universal design.
  • Overall Impact: Reports designed with accessibility in mind are generally better and more inclusive.


Greg highlights the significance of alt text in making reports universally accessible. Implementing alt text correctly can greatly enhance the usability of reports for visually impaired individuals, ensuring that everyone can access and understand the data presented. This approach not only aligns with universal design principles but also improves the overall quality and inclusiveness of reporting.

Don't forget to check out the Pragmatic Works' on-demand learning platform for more insightful content and training sessions on Microsoft applications.  Plus, don't forget to like and subscribe to the Pragmatic Works YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on the latest Microsoft applications.

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