Image Descriptions

At Not On The West End I am trying to make our posts as accessible as possible and I think it would be great as a community if this was something we were all able to do. 

Stage one of this is going to be adding 'Image Descriptions' and 'Alt Text' to our Instagram post to make them more easily used by people using screen readers. 

This is a little about/how to guide for writing and adding these to your posts and how it's going to appear on NOTWE.

I have got a lot of the information I've shared here from PerkinsLearning.com and AccessibleInfluence.com and their respective guides on this. I've tried to put some edited relevant highlights here but all the full info is available through those links and are worth a quick read. 

First, Image Descriptions and Alt Text are two seperate things but they do have a similar function. Image descriptions are what you would find in a caption to an image and available to anyone viewing your post. Alt Text is specifically for screen readers and embeded as part of the data of the image for the internet (Alt Text is what pinterest uses to know what a picture is of, for example, and using Alt Text can improve your appearance in search results). 

Alternative text should be kept to approximately 125 characters or 30 words. It’s okay to go over that, but remember that a person using a screen reader is listening to it before they get to your caption, so you don’t want to extend too long. If you need more words to describe a photo, make a more detailed image description in your caption.

When composing image descriptions, it may seem difficult to decide what to include, so here is a quick general guide:

Features to include in an image description:

  • Placement of objects in image

  • Image style (painting, graph)

  • Colors

  • Placement of text

  • Surroundings/backgrounds

Features NOT to include in an image description:

  • Descriptions of colors- no need to describe what red looks like

  • Obvious details such as someone having two eyes, a nose, and a mouth

  • Details that are not the focus of the picture

  • Overly poetic or detailed descriptions

  • Emoji

  • Multiple punctuation marks

An example of an image description!

This image from the lovely Isidore London has this description:

[image description: a red and orange poppy flower crownset on a black velvet headband with a red, twisted beaded necklace with tassels draped around it and red dangle cut glass earrings in the bottom right corner. Image set in a white circular frame with the black and white 'Isidore' sun-ray logo in the bottom left corner]

Another  example of an image description!

This image of my own embroidery (I'm Anna Broids) has this description:

[image description: an embroidery on white fabric in a circular bamboo embroidery hoop. The embroidery uses grey thread in a portrait of the goddess Athena. She is in profile facing left with her helmet pushed back on her head. The embroidery is on a box of multi-coloured embroidery threads on plastic bobbins.]

And another example of an image description!

This image from the fantastic Twenty A Macrame has this description:

[image description: Two knitted bowls, the larger on the left is white and hold three balls of wool and the smaller on the right is black and hold knitting needles. Both are made from rope. They are on a wooden table with a plant in a gold pot against a black ground of white with a section of the background on the upper and left sides in dark green tiles.]

How This Will Work For Not On The West End

I use a scheduling app which doesn't allow me to add 'Alt Text' from posting, so I will be adding [Image Description: ...] to the captions of posts above the hashtags, then add 'Alt Text' later so that they're accessible from posting. The image description in captions also mean that it can be translated into other languages, because Instagram doesn't translate Alt Text. 

How To Add Alt Text to an Instagram post:

When adding Alt Text to a new post on Instagram the 'Advance Settings' button is WAY down at the bottom of the 'New Post' screen, that takes you through to a menu with the 'Alt Text' option.

When adding Alt Text to an existing post on Instagram, when you click 'Edit', the 'Edit Alt Text' button will be on the lower right corner of the image. 

With thanks to Mike and Judie Saunders for their financial support of this project. 

Not On The West End is a registered Etsy Affiliate. When you buy something having clicked through from this site we make a very small amount of money. This does not charge either sellers or customers, but rather Etsy themselves. This money will be used to maintain the website and keep the project running. 

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