How to handle text-based flowcharts

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How to handle text-based flowcharts thread
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Hello again!

I know that complex images like flowcharts need long descriptions most of the time. I’m wondering, however, about text-based flowcharts. Is there any way to lay these out more like tables so that readers can navigate them themselves, or is it best at this point to lay them out as images and give all text in a long description?

Here’s an example of what I’m looking at:

A text-based flowchart set as an image from a medical lab literacy textbook

Laura Brady

One thought is to rethink the diagram format and place it in the ebook as complex list. It may necessitate a little re-writing, but it could work.

If that is jut not an option, then a long description would be required so that all the text is available to print-disabled readers.


Thanks Laura. Here’s a related question:

I’m coming across some conflicting information about how to write long descriptions for complex content. Specifically, the Poet tool from Benetech’s Diagram centre ( in some places recommends using bulleted lists when describing complex content such as maps (“Whenever possible, organize the description using bulleted lists and by pulling the most important information to the beginning of the description so students hear it first.”) and complex flow charts (“Describe each section of the flow chart linearly, using nested lists as an organizing tool.”) These quotations are pulled from the Maps -> Political and Flow Charts -> Multiple Start Points examples in the “How to Describe” section of the tool.

From others, I’ve heard that AT doesn’t do well with bulleted lists. So: what is the most up-to-date best practice with regard to using bulleted lists (or not) in long descriptions for exceptionally complex content?

Laura Brady

If a list or a table is correctly marked up, assistive technology knows what to do with it. That’s not a concern. There is a school of thought that those things should be in a long description, but I don’t share that opinion. A long description is exactly for more complex markup and descriptions.

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