Images are everywhere. With the burst of internet use and social media platforms, images are used to communicate messages often in place of words. Not everyone is able to see the images, a reminder that the internet isn’t inclusive. Fortunately, with advanced technology there is the option of screen readers – software programs that allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display. Although screen readers can detect images and come up with their own generic description of what the image is, many times it is up to the user to provide the alternative​ text or a caption for a more accurate image description. In addition, some images or emojis are not describable or detected appropriately for the context by screen readers. Image descriptions also increase accessibility for internet users with slow connections or limited memory where the image doesn’t load clearly or at all.

To encourage inclusivity and accessibility for those who are blind or deafblind in our babywearing community, we advise all participants who are part of Babywearing International of the Twin Cities to add image descriptions to images and emojis shared on Facebook and on Instagram. Images on our website and blog have image descriptions in the alternative​ text which is visible in the HTML and to screen readers.

Not sure where to start? Keep reading!

Image descriptions are text captions for images on the internet put in plain text directly following the image or near it, or placed as alternate text in the HTML to be picked up by screen readers. It’s simple to add them, it makes the internet more accessible, and it may make you more intentional about the images you choose to share. Worried you’re not a writer? No need to write a novel. Image descriptions are mostly tasked with conveying facts of an image but you’re welcome to put your descriptive writing skills to the test!

Image descriptions are always separated from the rest of the text with symbols ({}, [], **, (), etc) in order to announce their presence to screen readers.

Example of Image Description

Below are three photographs each with three levels of detail in image description for the photograph.

Example 1:

[Image of a light tan skin Asian smiling woman looking off to the side with red lipstick and blue-framed glasses with dark brown hair, wearing a mostly bald baby on her back in a woven wrap. The sun is shining and the two are standing in front of a worn white shed and white siding of a house. The wrap is spread across the woman's chest over a red-orange sweater, with a twisted chest belt across the top called a candy cane chest belt. The woven wrap is called "Tribute to Mother" and is a orange, natural and pink grad with a natural cotton weft. It was generously donated to a local babywearing group's lending library by the company West 4th Weaving.]

The following are varying levels of detail of image descriptions for the photo above:

A: [Image of a woman wearing a baby on her back in an orange, pink, and natural white woven wrap. They are outside on a sunny day.]

B: [Image of an Asian woman donning glasses and red lipstick, wearing a baby on her back in a woven wrap spread across her chest and tied off with a twisted chest belt before double knotting near one shoulder. They are outside on a sunny day in front of a worn white shed and white siding of a house.]

C: [Image of a light tan skin Asian smiling woman looking off to the side with red lipstick and blue-framed glasses with dark brown hair, wearing a mostly bald baby on her back in a woven wrap baby carrier. The sun is shining and the two are standing in front of a worn white shed and white siding of a house. The wrap is spread across the woman’s chest over a red-orange sweater, with a twisted chest belt across the top called a candy cane chest belt. The woven wrap is called “Tribute to Mother” and is a orange, natural and pink grad with a natural cotton weft. It was generously donated to a local babywearing group’s lending library by the company West 4th Weaving.]

Example 2: 

[Image of a fair skinned Jewish woman carrying a similarly fair skinned toddler boy on her back. She is using a green Didymos Lisca bei dai in the colorway "Smeraldo" and they are shopping in Target for items to put in traditional gift bags given to friends and neighbors during the Purim festival. The woman's sea green knit sweater and the boy's plaid dusty aqua one piece go with the green of the bei dai perfectly. The woman and boy both have long golden brown hair and dark brown eyes. The woman is smiling at the camera, and the boy is doing a "cheesing" smile, showing his teeth.]

The following are varying levels of detail of image descriptions for the photo above:

A: [Image of a woman carrying a toddler on her back. They are both smiling at the camera.]

B: [Image of a white woman carrying a white toddler boy on her back. They are in a store and she is using a green bei dai. The toddler and woman both have long brown hair and dark brown eyes and both are smiling at the camera.]

C: [Image of a fair skinned Jewish woman carrying a similarly fair skinned toddler boy on her back. She is using a green Didymos Lisca bei dai in the colorway “Smeraldo” and they are shopping in Target for items to put in traditional gift bags given to friends and neighbors during the Purim festival. The woman’s sea green knit sweater and the boy’s plaid dusty aqua one piece go with the green of the bei dai perfectly. The woman and boy both have long golden brown hair and dark brown eyes. The woman is smiling at the camera, and the boy is doing a “cheesing” smile, showing his teeth.]

Example 3:

[Image of a white woman with short red hair and glasses smiling at the camera while wearing her white toddler on her back in a Soul brand linen soft structured carrier. The toddler has long curly blonde hair and is smiling at something off camera. They are traveling on a light rail train car and the woman is holding a large stroller in front of her that contains the convertible car seat they are bringing with to the airport. Both mother and child are dressed in autumn weather clothing.]

The following are varying levels of detail of image descriptions for the photo above:

A: [Image of a woman wearing a toddler on her back inside of a light rail train car. They are both smiling.]

B: [Image of a white woman wearing a white girl toddler on her back inside of a light rail train car. The woman is holding onto a stroller in front of her and the toddler is being worn in a soft structured carrier.]

C: [Image of a white woman with short red hair and glasses smiling at the camera while wearing her white toddler on her back in a Soul brand linen soft structured carrier. The toddler has long curly blonde hair and is smiling at something off camera. They are traveling on a light rail train car and the woman is holding a large stroller in front of her that contains the convertible car seat they are bringing with to the airport. Both mother and child are dressed in autumn weather clothing.]

There are different ways to write image descriptions. Find the style that best suits how you want your images to be understood and seen. Some things to think about are the mood and/or atmosphere, the most prominent object in the image, and the purpose of the image. The more you write them, the more they’ll come naturally.

How to Write Hashtags

Seems like everyone has a hashtag for everything these days. They can be clever, tags to connect people, a way to search for related posts. Write what you’d like, but here’s a recommendation on how to write them to be more legible -“CamelCase.” CamelCase is the practice of capitalizing the first letter of every word in a multiple-word hashtag. Using CamelCase helps differentiate between the different words in the hashtag.
For example:
#BabywearingForTheWin
#FrontWrapCrossCarry
rather than…
#babywearingforthewin
#frontwrapcrosscarry
In addition to increasing legibility for sighted people, using CamelCase helps screen readers distinguish the separate words in a hashtag.

Resources for Writing Image Descriptions and Hashtags:

“What is a Screen Reader”: http://www.afb.org/prodBrowseCatResults.aspx?CatID=49

“Visual Descriptors”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_descriptor

“Image Descriptions and How to Write Them”: https://hubpages.com/art/Image-Descriptions-And-How-To-Write-Them

“Suggestions on How to Describe Pictures to Blind People”: https://photonarrations.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/suggestions-on-how-to-describe-pictures-to-blind-people/ (written by two blind people)

“22 months writing image descriptions: 4 awesome side-effects / resources & explanation of the need”: https://medium.com/@belenen/22-months-writing-image-descriptions-4-awesome-side-effects-resources-explanation-of-the-need-c686fae8e3e5

“Using CamelCase for Hashtags”: http://www.sonoma.edu/socialmedia/2017/02/using-camelcase-for-hashtags.html

“Emoji Marketing Could Be Excluding People From Your Conversation”: https://siteimprove.com/blog/emoji-marketing-could-be-excluding-people-from-your-conversation

 

 

Like what you see? Check out hashtag #BWITCCOTM on our Instagram @bwitc (https://www.instagram.com/bwitc) and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BWItwincities/).

Have questions about babywearing? Contact us (through our website or Facebook) or, come learn in person at one of our meetings! Wear on!

 

All images have image descriptions in the alternative text visible to screen readers.

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