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Alternative Content

What is Alternative Content

Rich media content accessed online can have many issues for web visitors. Although support and documentation are provided for most rich content types, there are many scenarios which can prevent web visitors from instantly accessing the content. These may include:

  • Slow internet connection for downloading large media clips
  • No media player or browser plug-in of the right type
  • No permission to install plug-ins or players
  • No desktop software, such as Microsoft Office
  • Higher sound card, video card, memory, or CPU requirements
  • Alternative web browser configurations
  • Learning, visual, and hearing challenges for the web visitor

Alternative content is a separate page linked next to the main element of rich content, such as an embedded animation, which provides text, images, or other media that are roughly equivalent to the original content. Screen captures are often used, and narratives are transcribed. An animated process may be represented with a short sequence of key images. A spreadsheet may be converted to simple text or to an image. A complex image may have a long text description. Examples: alternative content for animation and video.

When to Include Alternative Content

Your Series policy may dictate that alternative content is optional, strongly recommended, or required. This may also depend on how important the content is, how problematic the medium can be, and how diverse the intended audience is perceived to be. Generally, modules intended for classroom use should have a high commitment to accessibility, including complete sets of alternative media. Digital video tends to be the most technically problematic.

It is not a good idea to make broad assumptions about the technical or physical capabilities of your web visitors. Even very basic alternative content can greatly improve a visitor's browsing experience.

How to Include Alternative Content

Tech Alive staff can assess your rich content, generate appropriate alternative content on its own page, and link that page next to the original media element. Contact helpdesk support to request an alternative content page.

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