Techniques for WCAG 2.0

Skip to Content (Press Enter)


H24: Providing text alternatives for the area elements of image maps


HTML and XHTML Documents that contain area elements.

This technique relates to:

User Agent and Assistive Technology Support Notes

See User Agent Support Notes for H24.


The objective of this technique is to provide text alternatives that serve the same purpose as the selectable regions of an image map. An image map is an image divided into selectable regions defined by area elements. Each area is a link to another Web page or another part of the current Web page. The alt attribute of each area element serves the same purpose as the selectable area of the image.


Example 1

This example uses the alt attribute of the area element to provide text that describes the purpose of the image map areas.

Example Code:

<img src="welcome.gif" usemap="#map1" 
    alt="Areas in the library. Select an area for
more information on that area." /> 
<map id="map1" name="map1">
  <area shape="rect" coords="0,0,30,30"
    href="reference.html" alt="Reference" />
  <area shape="rect" coords="34,34,100,100"
    href="media.html" alt="Audio visual lab" />


Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.



For each area element in an image map:

  1. Check that the area element has an alt attribute.

  2. Check that the text alternative specified by the alt attribute serves the same purpose as the part of image map image referenced by the area element of the imagemap.

Expected Results

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.

Techniques are Informative

Techniques are informative—that means they are not required. The basis for determining conformance to WCAG 2.0 is the success criteria from the WCAG 2.0 standard—not the techniques. For important information about techniques, please see the Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria section of Understanding WCAG 2.0.