Key Issues Affecting the Inclusion of Alt Text in Scholarly PDF Publications
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Alternative (alt) text descriptions for images in digital publications provide comparable information for people who cannot effectively see the visuals. They are relied upon by people who are blind or who have a moderate to severe visual impairment and who use assistive technologies. However, consistent provision of alt text is proving challenging for publishers because of the required changes in workflow, budgeting, and resourcing; in particular, scholarly publications contain high numbers of images requiring alt text. Most industry knowledge-sharing and studies on alt text in scholarly PDFs focus on large and medium-sized publishers and high JIF titles. To explore key issues affecting the consistent inclusion of alt text in publications produced by small and non-profit publishers this study uses the case of a UK-based independent research organization. Drawing on PDF analyses and a focus group discussion with publishing staff, the article makes recommendations for similar organizations seeking to publish alt text.