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Would using aria-hidden or role=“presentation” improve navigation speed for people using assistive technology?

General Tech Technology & Software
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Atul Kasana


( 3 months ago )

I see that the most common suggestion for decorative images is to use a blank alt text in the markup.

However I've noticed the screen readers still pick up the image.

If I use aria-hidden or role=presentation I see that the image is skipped altogether.

Would a combination of any of the above along with a blank alt text have any improvements on the navigation speed for people using assistive technology?

Priya Roy


( 3 months ago )


Although not mandatory, I would recommend adding role="presendation" to decorative images in order to make explicit that the image is here for decorative purpose (but CSS should be preferred).

We can't answer if this would improve navigation speed for people but this would improve assistive technologies determination. Common screenreaders (which are a small subpart of assistive technologies) should already ignore an image with an empty alt.

But for instance, people with cognitive disorders may want to disable all decorative images, preserving meaningful one. Adding a role="presentation" attribute will help algorithm to suppress those images, while others one might be part of the content but unfortunately missing an alt attribute.

Of course, significant images must have a non empty alt, so this should be unnecessary. But, as a developer you create accessible templates, but you will never know how the content of the website will evolve, if content writer will always be trained for accessibility, if the alternative text for image will be added when necessary. So a missing alt will always make it unreadable for screenreader users, but adding a role="description" when you are sure that the image have to be ignored by other assistive technologies is a good precaution.

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