The Art and Science of Describing Images (W)

The Art and Science of Describing Images opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 22nd saw a session focused on the skill of writing image descriptions giving us an in-depth glimpse of how to approach various types of images.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Valerie Morrison, Center for Inclusive Design at The Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Huw Alexander, textBOX Digital

Session Overview

Valerie Morrison opened this session with reference to the 1st image description webinar that formed part of this series, held last month, which concentrated on best practice for publishers and explained that today’s session would look closer at editing tips for Alt Text and how to describe some of the more popular types of image.

The Art of Editing

Valerie had previously presented on her basic approach to image description and was useful to be able to go over these again in reference to today’s more detailed dive into the topic. Editing alt text is vital and being able to call on multiple people to perform a review is a good idea. Valerie gave our listeners 4 useful tips to help them craft effective descriptions:

Edit to Provide Clarity

Make sure you use specific language and simple word choices in order to be clear. Write out any acronyms and symbols and use proper grammar and punctuation

Edit to Organize Information

Work from the general to the specific and group like items together for ease of cognitive load. Organize information within your image description in predictable ways, listing similarities first.

Edit to Remain Neutral

Try not to instruct or go beyond what is contained within the image. You can describe actions or expressions but don’t attempt to interpret thoughts and feelings unless the context requires this.

Edit to Reduce Redundancy

Edit descriptions which are too wordy and cut unnecessary phrases. Avoid repeating a caption, if one is present, and try not to regurgitate the surrounding text.

Before moving on to some specific examples Valerie reminded us to consider the cognitive load of your reader. The average person can remember 7 items at a time so less is more where your image descriptions are concerned. Introducing fewer words helps the listener to process information more efficiently and by simplifying and reducing alt text length you care reducing auditory fatigue.

Describing the Most Popular Types of Image

Huw Alexander talked to us about a method that he and his team have devised to provide an organized approach to image description: the focus/LOCUS method which very much complements the approach that Valerie suggested, advocating working from the general to the specific along a pathway of scene-setting and story-telling.

Huw chose 7 image types for this particular webinar with the reassurance that other types will be looked at in future sessions in this series:

  • Bar charts
  • Pie charts
  • Line charts
  • Venn diagrams
  • Flow charts
  • Scatter plots
  • Photographs

showing us the major areas of focus for each and then providing an in-depth example of how it should be done. This level of information is invaluable to those of us who are writing image descriptions on a daily basis and we look forward to the next session (October 7th) which will look at info-graphics and timelines and how to describe these, as well as complex content, test and examination materials and, not forgetting, tables!

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

The Accessibility EPUB Eco-system in Action: Following the Journey from Publisher to Student (W)

Accessible EPUB Ecosystem opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 8th saw a session about the journey accessible EPUB publications take to ultimately be delivered to students in their education establishments and our speakers came from organizations involved throughout this journey.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Michael Johnson, Benetech
  • Rachel Comerford, Macmillan Learning
  • Trisha Prevett, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Brendan Desetti, D2L

Session Overview

This webinar looked at aspects of the educational materials eco-system for accessibility and Michael Johnson opened by summarizing what would be covered:

  • What is the Eco-System?
  • The Publishing Workflow
  • Accessible Titles in Retail
  • What is Happening on Campus
  • A View Inside a Learning Management System

Michael Johnson talked to us about what is happening now. Publishers are already creating accessible EPUBs, they are preparing files for 3rd party certification and accessible ebooks are are available for sale. There is reader software to support accessible EPUB files and campuses are buying accessible content and changing their procurement policies for their systems.

All elements in the workflow from the publisher to the point of retail, from being available for purchase to appearing within the LMS / library system, are part of the accessible eco-system. Our eco-system should be accessible from start to finish to benefit all students.

The business case is clear and Rachel Comerford reminded us that:

You or someone close to you has benefitted from accessibility work at least once in the last year / /month / week whether or not you consider yourself disabled.

The ingredients for an accessible environment must include:

  • The Data
  • The People
  • The Content
  • The Platform
  • The End Product

Rachel took us through each of these areas in relation to publishing in general and, more specifically, how Macmillan Learning have approached these.

Trisha Prevett gave us an insight into how this feeds into what is happening on campus, where they currently have 180,000 online students! Accessibility is more important than ever and impacts the following areas:

  • Procurement workflows
  • Electronic Information Technology
  • Assessment of Products
  • Relationships with contracted vendors
  • Cost of resources
  • Training of faculty and staff

Brendan Desetti spoke to us about Learning Management Systems and how accessibility affects the three areas:

  • Content: in supporting instructors with accessible course content
  • Process: in facilitating practice of universal design for learning
  • Platform: enabling accessibility and an equitable user experience

Brendan showed us how D2L are ensuring that all layers of their LMS are attending to these.

Michael Johnson summarized :

  • This is indeed all happening now
  • A Born Accessible EPUB is a better EPUB
  • This is all real work and very do-able
  • Campuses must insist that their vendors are compliant
  • Publishers and platform folk should make sure they are compliant

Accessibility is about meeting the specifications but also about the user experience, the audience response, the assistance and support that comes with a product, and the change that the product undergoes.

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Free Webinar: WordToEPUB Extended Tutorial – Accessible EPUB in Seconds

July 29th, 2020

You can start making accessible EPUBs after just a few seconds with Microsoft Word and the free WordToEPUB tool from the DAISY Consortium, but you can also achieve much more. This practical session will demonstrate how to get started with WordToEPUB and introduce some of the features beyond the effective one-click solution, including custom styling, page numbering control, content with multiple languages, adding a cover image and customizing metadata.

Date

July 29th, 2020

Venue

Online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the July 29th webinar

For information on the whole DAISY webinar series on offer you can register your interest on the Webinar Information Page

Free Webinar: The Art and Science of Describing Images

July 22nd, 2020

This webinar will build on our first image description session to take a deeper dive into describing images, talking through plenty of examples from initial assessment through to solution, and starting to address some of the more complex challenges which can arise from graphical complexity and from informational constraints like those found with tests.

Date

July 22nd, 2020

Venue

Online via Zoom or via the DAISY YouTube channel afterwards

Learn More

Sign up for the July 22nd webinar

For information on the whole DAISY webinar series on offer you can register your interest on the Webinar Information Page

Welcoming New Inclusive Publishing Partners

We are very pleased to welcome three new organizations to our Inclusive Publishing Partner program. Pearson, Microsoft and Fenix Editorial are now among the select group of companies who are enjoying the benefits of the IPP program. Congratulations to all involved and we look forward to having you on board.

The IPP program is open to anyone working within the publishing industry and we are proud to include Google, Adobe,VitalSource & Red Shelf amongst our esteemed list of partners. A full list of members is available and we welcome your interest. Get in touch so see how the benefits available to you via this program might be able to change the way you approach accessibility and enable us to design and produce tools and solutions that work for you.

A World Tour of Inclusive Publishing Initiatives (W)

World Tour of Inclusive Publishing Initiatives opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 1st saw a session focused on activities taking place globally to promote inclusive publishing practices.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Hugo Setzer, Manual Moderno and The International Publishers Association
  • Deborah Nelson, eBound Canada
  • Brad Turner, Benetech
  • Kirsi Yianne, NIPI and IFLA

Session Overview

This week we mixed things up a little and had a brief whistle-stop tour of what is happening around the world before opening up to our esteemed panel for a larger discussion for the greater portion of the webinar. Richard Orme guided us through various initiatives from a variety of countries. There is so much happening and this is a truly exciting time for accessible publishing everywhere. We hope that some of the initiatives presented will inspire you in your market and help you to further the good work within the publishing industry.

During this time we also ran a poll to find out where our audience hails from: 56% from North America, 30% from Europe, 9% from Asia and 5% from South America so we were delighted to have such a global audience with us on this journey.

Panel Discussion

The discussion opened with a lively chat focusing on a few key themes as listed below. For a fuller overview we recommend listening to the video recording.

The Accessibility Eco-System

Hugo Setzer empahisized the importance of an entire eco-system that works together to achieve accessible experiences. Deborah Nelson sees awareness of vendors as being a hurdle within the eco-system and how we should be encouraging users to motivate these partners into action.

End User Awareness

Kirsi Yianne discussed engagement with end users to drive awareness. NIPI have worked hard to understand the needs of print disabled readers and how their needs should involve the entire eco-system.

Supporting Regulation

Kirsi Yianne reminded us all that the European Accessibility Act will come into force in 2025. Standards are vital to help with compliance to the new rulings.

International Standards and Compliance

All our panelists commented on the importance of international standards to drive compliance.

Brad Turner explained how the Benetech GCA Certification System is underpinned by international standards. GCA uses WCAG Level 2 as their gold standard. Compliance in the USA tends to be at an educational level and Higher Ed establishments are looking to publish accessible materials.

Deborah Nelson told us about the plans in Canada to develop a certification scheme as a result of their Landscape Research report. eBound Canada plans to run a pilot of the Benetech GCA scheme to see what certification will look like for 250 independent Canadian publishers.

Advocacy,Training and Expert Support

Training and awareness is a major portion of the Canadian research project and Deborah Nelson puts the end user at the very center of this project, helping to build a knowledge base and an understanding of accessibility needs.

The work of organizations such as DAISY, WIPO & ABC drives awareness building. Hugo Setzer pointed our audience towards the practical training tools provided by ABC, commenting that may publishers around the world are working hard to ensure the accessibility of their content.

Call to Action

Each panelist was asked to briefly tell us what our main takeaway from this session should be: a call to action

  • Deborah Nelson: Make sure you are able to communicate the business case
  • Brad Turner: Learn about Born Accessible and take the first step by reaching out for help
  • Hugo Setzer: Sign the Accessible Publishing Charter which is available in 7 languages from ABC
  • Kirsi Yianne: Do not wait until 2025 for the European Accessibility Act. Start learning now

In a final poll about the greatest perceived challenges to implementing inclusive publishing practices the webinar audience voted as follows:

  • 33% Business case is hard to make
  • 30% Do not know where to start
  • 30% No strong laws to make it happen
  • 7% The tools don’t exist

Related Resources

Discover the other webinars we’re running!

Image Description: Advice From the Front Lines

a splattered ink blotter authoring equipment-notebook, sketch paper, post it notes, cell phone, paper clip, pen and pencilA few weeks ago The DAISY Consortium ran a webinar on image description and we were lucky to have some practical advice and top tips on hand from a variety of publishers. This blog piece looks at that advice and shows how different publishers are approaching the issue of image description which can be very different depending on the size and genre of publishing activity.

Image descriptions and how to handle them effectively were one of the greatest challenges identified by publishers in our seasonal accessibility survey. Do you ask your authors to contribute to the creation of image descriptions? Do you bake them into your internal workflows or do you choose to out-source them to a third party vendor who has an expertise in this area? All perfectly valid and reasonable solutions but how do you know what is the right path for your organization? There is no magic, one solution fits all answer to this but we will endeavour to shed some light on why the various options may or may not work for you.

Some Top Tips to Bear in Mind

A number of very useful tips were presented by Valerie Morrison from The Georgia Institute of Technology which will help to frame the advice from our contributing publishers. These have been listed next to the best practice advice from our publishers, where appropriate.

Kogan Page

Kogan Page is an independent publishing company founded in 1967 and headquartered in London, with branches in New York and New Delhi. Kogan Page specializes in business books and digital content, with over 1,000 titles published in key subject areas.

Current Practice

  • Image descriptions are outsourced to vendors rather than authors.
  • One vendor has team in-house
  • Another has a panel
  • Decided against author descriptions
  • Alt text and extended descriptions are provided

Advice

  • Develop guidelines for your vendors. Top Tip: Make sure you encourage your vendors to consider the “cognitive load” that is being presented to readers
  • Develop a small library of ‘exemplar figures/tables’
  • Control costs
  • Spot check vendor descriptions for QA

Macmillan Learning

Educational publisher, Macmillan Learning is one of the leading educational technology companies in North America. With a number of offices throughout the US, Macmillan Learning has been a driving force in accessible publishing, gaining awards and recognition for their innovative and inclusive approach.

Current Practice

Image descriptions are generated at Macmillan via a variety of different routes, depending on the nature of the content:

  • Originated by Authors
  • Outsourced as part of the ebook creation process
  • Description specialists with subject matter expertise may be the best choice for technical titles
  • In-house authoring where subject matter knowledge is available

Advice

  • Aim for iterative improvement rather than for perfection to begin with
  • Descriptions are content so you should remember to apply the same rules you use for anything else you publish
  • Be careful with the length of your descriptions – don’t err on the side of too much or too little. Top Tip: Try to keep to 125 characters or the length of a standard tweet

John Wiley & Sons

John Wiley & Sons is an American multinational publishing company founded in 1807 that focuses on academic publishing and instructional materials. The company produces books, journals, and encyclopedias, in print and electronically, as well as online products and services, training materials, and educational materials for undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students.

Current Practice

  • All alt text is written by trained subject matter experts
  • Training includes understanding how descriptions are used with assistive technology
  • All alt text also goes through a QA process
  • Involve end users
  • Alt text creation begins during EPUB production
  • Care is taken when images are re-used

Advice

  • Become familiar with the different image concepts. Top Tip: Consider different modalities to convey meaning and to avoid overlap
  • Understand the difference between short and long descriptions, and when to apply them to an image. Top Tip: Some images don’t require lengthy descriptions. A photograph of a specific person might only need their name, a simple graphic might only need one sentence.
  • Create internal requirements around style and language to help create consistency in the learner’s experience
  • Alt text should not be used to teach, but to describe. Top Tip: Descriptions should be neutral and informative
  • Don’t forget spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Top Tip: don’t include any hard line breaks either and avoid acronyms and symbols (a screen reader will read everything)
  • And validate, validate, validate.

W.W. Norton

W. W. Norton & Company is an employee-owned publisher in the United States, which publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, college textbooks, cookbooks, art books, and professional books

Current Practice

  • The norm at W. W. Norton is to outsource to image description specialists, toward the end of the book’s production cycle
  • In-house editorial staff are responsible for reviewing all third-party image descriptions and are trained on this quite extensively.
  • Editorial assistants do sometimes author image descriptions in-house. Mainly when a non-STEM book revises and only a small number of images change
  • STEM or complex materials always require a specialist
  • Authors volunteer to describe images rarely. It’s preferable that they spend their time on content development

Advice

  • Aim for an equivalent experience to how people consume images visually. This is best accomplished by a short description and structured extended descriptions. Top Tip: Work from the general to the specific so that a sense of what is being described can be accessed immediately.
  • Write guidelines for yourself and other authors so that your chosen nomenclature is clear—whether you use “alt text,” “image description,” “short description,” etc.
  • There is no single solution for all images. Best practices and examples will help but authoring alt text ultimately requires quite a lot of executive functioning and decision making.

4 different publishers and 4 very different ways of approaching image description. What works for you? We’d love to hear about your experiences and any top tips that you can pass on to others. If we can share our various approaches then we can learn from each other and find a workflow that suits us. Drop us a line at office@inclusivepublishing.org

All 4 of our contributors support the development of in-house guidance to establish methods of working and house-style for a consistent approach to image description. These guidelines should be made available to 3rd party vendors or authors if that is the route you have chosen. An in-house quality check is necessary and during this time it is really important to keep in mind the needs of the reader and the context in which the specific images appear. Describing the meaning rather than the appearance will ensure you are considerate of the end users needs.

You may wish to register for our next webinar on image description entitled: The Art and Science of Image Description which takes a deeper dive with two more experts in this field.