Adding alt text to a post thumbnail

While working on a custom navigation using WP_Query and has_post_thumbnail for an icon I ran into an accessibility concern. By default, the_post_thumbnail will not display an alt tag when rendered in the browser. In the following code snippet I add an alt tag using the image file’s title.

<?php

// The Post Array
$args = array(
	'category_name'	=> 'disasters, emergency-procedures',
	'orderby'	=> 'title',
	'order'		=> 'ASC',
);

// The Query
$the_query = new WP_Query( $args );

// The Loop
if ( $the_query->have_posts() ) {
	while ( $the_query->have_posts() ) {
		$the_query->the_post();
		echo '<a href="' . get_permalink() . '">'; 
		echo '<article class="emergency-icon">';
			// check if the post has a Post Thumbnail assigned to it.
			if ( has_post_thumbnail() ) {

				the_post_thumbnail(
					array(40,40),
					array('alt' => get_the_title() )
				);
			}

			echo '<span class="entry-title">' . get_the_title() . '</span>';
		echo '</article>';
		echo '</a>';
	}
	/* Restore original Post Data */
	wp_reset_postdata();
} else {
	// no posts found
}

In short the code above starts with a query that looks for categories slugged”disasters” and emergency-procedures then orders the results by title in ascending order.

Customized html is then wrapped around the results along with an alt attribute taken from the image’s title then included within the img tag.

Technically speaking, it would be more appropriate to use the alt field set for the image. However, alt text has to be generated manually where as the title is automatically created when media is uploaded to the library.

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