Authoring Text Alternatives for Images (Part 1 of 2)

Authoring Text Alternatives for Images, Part 1: An Introduction to Theory and Methods

Live Broadcast Date: Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Eastern (UTC - 5 hours)
Speaker(s): Todd Marquis Boutin, Senior Director, Accessibility, SPi Global and Pina D'Intino, Accessibility Consultant, Aequum Global Access
Target Audience: Digital content producers, website developers, testers
Skill Level: Beginner - Intermediate - Advanced

Register for Authoring Text Alternatives for Images (Part 1 of 2)


Images often add value to websites and other digital content. For sighted users, images can inform, build interest, and motivate. The text alternatives (alt text) for these images must serve the same purpose for listening users. Alt text can also help users with low vision and cognitive disabilities better understand content viewed via common technology. Part 1 of this 2-part webinar introduces attendees to the theory and practice of authoring alt text for images on business, marketing, informational, educational, and networking websites, as well as other digital products. This session addresses four topics: (1) writing “equivalent” alt text versus describing what an image looks like; (2) image context and purpose; (3) user needs and preferences; (4) current product-specific workflows, authoring tools, and emerging AI-based solutions.

An advanced Authoring Text Alternatives (part 2 of 2) will be offered on February 18th.


  • Participants will be able to identify image purpose based on website/product type, context, and audience
  • Participants will be able to explain how alt text content and design vary based on user profile (e.g., onset and severity of sight impairment, cognitive disability, academic or professional background, goals in engaging content)
  • Participants will be able to determine relevant image content and description design based on image purpose and audience
  • Participants will have a basic understanding of current workflows for alt text authoring, authoring tools, and the potential roles of AI and automation

Speaker Bios:

Headshot of Todd Marquis Boutin 
Todd Marquis Boutin
is the Senior Director of Accessibility at SPi Global, a market leader in providing content services to educational publishers. Mr. Marquis Boutin joined SPi Global as an alt text writer in 2012, before advancing through a series of leadership positions in the Editorial and Alt Text Departments. Since 2015, he has overseen the production of over 1,500,000 image descriptions for an increasingly wide range of subject areas, course levels, product types, and platforms. Mr. Marquis Boutin also works with clients and internal teams to develop effective product and process guidelines for text alternatives. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Writing and Humanistic Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with a major in creative writing and a concentration in social anthropology. Prior to entering academic publishing, he spent two decades working in the education, social services, and mental health fields, and he applies this experience when exploring and advocating for new ways to effectively communicate complicated concepts to users with diverse abilities, perspectives, preferences, and goals. Mr. Marquis Boutin is a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies through the International Association of Accessibility Professionals.

Headshot of Pina D'Intino
Pina D'Intino
is an internationally recognized leadership and accessibility speaker who establishes robust strategic frameworks and develops organizational roadmaps and strategies promoting inclusion from both executive leadership and grassroots perspectives. Most recently, as the Global Accessibility Practice Lead at Cognizant, Pina D'Intino led and promoted the Cognizant accessibility strategy by increasing capacity and implementing best practices for onshore and offshore publishing accessibility teams, while providing subject matter expertise for new client proposals. In her career, Ms. D'Intino has held several IT operational, accessibility, and managerial positions; has pioneered and founded a cross-institutional hub for accessibility and inclusion; and is an entrepreneur. Her client portfolio includes a large telecommunication company, federally regulated organizations in Canada and the US, mid-size provincially regulated organizations, and educational institutions. Ms. D'Intino is a global leadership board member of the G3 ICT IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals), and she sits on committees promoting recognition for accessibility professionals through certification and training. Ms. D'Intino also serves as an advisor to provincial regulatory bodies and federally and municipally initiated reviews and projects.


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