sqbr: (up)
Sophie ([personal profile] sqbr) wrote in [community profile] access_fandom2011-03-05 10:05 pm

Some questions about image descriptions

First: Is there anyone here who uses tumblr and benefits significantly from image/video descriptions? I've been making a small effort to champion them, but apart from the sorts of things that apply intermittently to everyone (A video blocked at your work or country, comics with tiny text etc) my arguments have all been about hypothetical users and it would be useful to (a)Have some evidence against the "but noone who needs descriptions would use a visual medium like tumblr" argument(*) and (b)Get any specific suggestions you guys might have to offer (like: given the fact that long descriptions are often cut off automatically or by rebloggers, is it better to do short ones? Or do you lose too much information?)

Second: With my fanart I've been pitching my descriptions at people who are familiar with canon unless I have some particular reason to think it will be interesting to those who aren't. In general I find writing descriptions quite mentally taxing and, beyond mentioning the names of the characters and canon so that people can google if they like, trying to imagine how to make the image make sense to someone who doesn't know canon without going into a three page backstory is usually too much for me. But since I don't really use image descriptions myself I worry I may be missing something.

To give an example: Unless you're familiar with Homestuck, Redglare holds the chin of an angry looking Mindfang does not get across the fact that they are both grey skinned troll women with orange horns and specific outfits. But if you're not familiar with Homestuck, would you care?

Also, do people have any general good posts explaining the importance of image descriptions and best way to do them? I found So, Like, What’s The Big Deal With Transcripts and Stuff, Anyway? which I thought was pretty good (I've seen many good posts before but seem not to have saved them because I am silly) I also found 6 Surprising Bad Practices That Hurt Dyslexic Users which is somewhat relevant.

EDIT: Thanks for your feedback everyone, I've made a follow up post on my tumblr.

(*)There are many good theoretical counterexamples to this, such as users who are there for the text posts or have issues with text at certain colours/sizes/fonts so are fine with pictures but not comics etc. Plus of course users who can see fine but can't hear videos etc. But proof that such tumblr users exist would be useful, if only so that people have to come up with a different excuse for not doing descriptions.
rhivolution: David Tennant does the Thinker (Default)

[personal profile] rhivolution 2011-03-05 02:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Just wanted to say that I'm interested in this as well regarding Tumblr--I tend towards longer descriptions, but as a media geek that is sort of how I operate.
meloukhia: Sean Connery as James Bond, wearing a white shirt and tie, a cigarette dragging from his lip, pointing a gun. (James Bond)

[personal profile] meloukhia 2011-03-05 02:41 pm (UTC)(link)
I get private notes in my ask box from users thanking me for image descriptions; not just blind folks but also people who sometimes have trouble parsing the content of images.

I think also that it serves another function: It reminds people who would not otherwise be aware of it that web accessibility is an issue and they should care about it. At least once a day I see a post explaining what/why image descriptions are in response to an 'ask.' I *think* I may have been the person who started doing it on Tumblr (happy to be corrected if I'm not) and I noticed that it spread like wildfire and is becoming increasingly common (I'm still lobbying Tumblr to allow people to alt tag their images, it is ridiculous that this isn't a feature). And I note that, for example, people who weren't using alt tags on their personal sites now *are* because they saw it discussed on Tumblr.

I'm also (ahem) the person who wrote 'So, Like...' so I'm glad you like it!
lightgetsin: The Doodledog with frisbee dangling from her mouth, looking mischievious, saying innocence personified. (Default)

[personal profile] lightgetsin 2011-03-05 02:45 pm (UTC)(link)
I use a screenreader, and totally wish Hungoverowls was image described.
lightgetsin: The Doodledog with frisbee dangling from her mouth, looking mischievious, saying innocence personified. (Default)

[personal profile] lightgetsin 2011-03-06 01:39 am (UTC)(link)
Well, sometimes my partner looks over my shoulder and is all, "LOL, he's leaning on a branch with these horribly bloodshot eyes," or "an incredibly rumpled owl." I feel that a good image description is all about flavor, not necessarily detail.
vi: (Default)

[personal profile] vi 2011-03-05 03:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Totally glad for this post as someone who's trying to caption more images/vids -- thank you for the links and the beginnings of a discussion. ^^
terajk: Ryoga, grabbing Ranma by his pajama-top and shouting: "Do you remember where my house is?!" (Default)

[personal profile] terajk 2011-03-05 03:47 pm (UTC)(link)
I like image descriptions. I like looking at art and photographs (heck, I like drawing), but because of the way my visual processing works I don't always "get" all the information in an image. Like, in a comic/manga where there are panels in which no one is talking, for instance. So, yes, image descriptions are helpful to me.
trouble: Sketch of Hermoine from Harry Potter with "Bookworms will rule the world (after we finish the background reading)" on it (Default)

[personal profile] trouble 2011-03-05 06:56 pm (UTC)(link)
No matter what I do I cannot make the images on Tumblr large enough for me to see properly. This is fine when I'm looking at pretty pictures of dresses from the 18th century, but lousy when I'm looking at basically anything else.

I have, however, told Tumblr to bite me, so I probably don't count anymore.
trouble: Sketch of Hermoine from Harry Potter with "Bookworms will rule the world (after we finish the background reading)" on it (Default)

[personal profile] trouble 2011-03-06 02:08 am (UTC)(link)
Mostly I got tired of "Why do you do this stupid image description stuff?" "Why do you talk about ableism so much?" "How can you be REALLY disabled if you're on the internet?"

Another data point (as one of the arguments it that the Tumblr dashboard isn't accessible anyway) is that I read a lot of tumblr via Greader rather than a dashboard.
kelachrome: An odd-eyed cat. (odd-eyed cat)

[personal profile] kelachrome 2011-03-05 07:23 pm (UTC)(link)
As one of the people I'm following pointed out, image descriptions also hold great value for people with slower connections, people at work using scripts to hide possibly NSFW images, or people accessing tumblr via mobile phone, where all the images are smaller.
Things that I, specifically, find useful:
-Captions for images that contain text, because for whatever reason text in images is often unclear/too small/in unreadable fonts.
-Video summaries. Because transcripts are not exactly widespread, and having a general idea of what's going on really helps when I can't understand what's being said.
jadelennox: leverage: Eliot, Hardison, Parker running from an explosion (leverage: running)

[personal profile] jadelennox 2011-03-05 10:24 pm (UTC)(link)
This. My accessibility needs don't preclude me seeing the images, but for a variety of reasons I sometimes end up browsing via lynx or with images turned off, and image descriptions on a tumblr have been useful for me in the past.

(That being said, I find that most tumblrs have a crap-to-gold ratio that doesn't make up for how damn slow the site is. But it has been useful sometimes.)
jadelennox: leverage: Eliot, Hardison, Parker running from an explosion (leverage: running)

[personal profile] jadelennox 2011-03-05 10:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I think with fanart you should think about the audience of people who do see the images. If you think there is an audience that doesn't know the fandom, then it's better to err on the side of the more useful image description. But if you think that everybody accessing the image in any useful fashion is going to have to know the fandom, then briefer descriptions probably make sense.

It's kind of like the art of captioning user pics. I've captioned the userpic above "leverage: Eliot, Hardison, Parker running from an explosion" which walks the middle line between assuming people care about the fandom (which will be likely on the posts for which I am likely to use that icon), and describing the image. If I were likely to use that icon as my general "HELP" icon, then I might caption it "people fleeing an explosion". If I were planning to use it exclusively in a Leverage community, I my caption it "OT3 credits shot".
chomiji: Akari, the shaman from SDK ... more to her than you might imagine  (Akari - autumn colors)

[personal profile] chomiji 2011-03-06 12:31 am (UTC)(link)

I'm really glad to read this discussion, because it's useful to me on the subject of ALT text in general on the Web (I'm a Web content manager IRL).

synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)

[personal profile] synecdochic 2011-03-06 01:15 am (UTC)(link)
I don't use Tumblr much (unless I'm linked there) because I find it really hard to deal with for some reason, but! I absolutely need video description -- I have a major auditory processing problem, and unless I can see the person talking (I am at least a partial lipreader) or it has subtitles, I miss anywhere between 40-60% of what's going on. (Not to mention, finding it really stressful to deal with.) So I use video description to tell me if it's worth spending stress points on it.
kaz: "Kaz" written in cursive with a white quill that is dissolving into (badly drawn in Photoshop) butterflies. (Default)

[personal profile] kaz 2011-03-06 04:58 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't really use tumblr but I do get linked there regularly, and I need video descriptions/transcripts - I have video issues (it's hard to tell *exactly* what's going on because it seems to be this unholy union of multiple issues e.g. auditory processing problems, hypersensitivity, inability to handle sudden changes, embarrassment squick and so on, but I'm pretty sure it's autism-related) that mean I'm pretty much utterly incapable of watching video roughly 95% of the time. And the other 5% I'll still be grateful for transcript/description because it makes things less stressful for me and makes it easier for me to follow things.
pseudo_tsuga: (Default)

[personal profile] pseudo_tsuga 2011-03-07 06:49 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, sqbr probably already knows this, but this post and the comments finally helped kick my butt to provide more transcripts or descriptions on Tumblr.