TIL... how to do picture descriptions in twitter for blind/sight-limited
October 14, 2019 9:02 PM   Subscribe

@RobotHugsComics has created a twitter thread [threadreader] full of great information on how to write image descriptions in twitter for those with visual impairments who are using text readers to engage with the site. It's full of in-depth tips on how to write image descriptions which will be useful for those who cannot see the images, in a way which makes them a part of the tweet content.
posted by hippybear (15 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
I gave a talk at a conference last week and in Keynote if you enter text in to the 'description' field of the image properties toolbox, it will get read out with VoiceOver. So I ended up making secret speaker notes for myself as the alt text for images in my slides which I could hear with one AirPod in.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:13 PM on October 14, 2019 [13 favorites]

Aaaaaand today I just discovered that Tweetdeck/Tweetduck has this ability as well. I never knew! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
posted by chrominance at 9:14 PM on October 14, 2019

hat tip @jessamyn. I'd never heard of this before, but I have some sight-limited friends on twitter and I'm excited to know about this!
posted by hippybear at 11:35 PM on October 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

When this is successfully automated, I will know that AI is here for good.
posted by hat_eater at 12:09 AM on October 15, 2019

When this is successfully automated,
About that...
Using AI to give people who are blind the “full picture” - Chrome Accessibility team

Machine-generated description for this image: "Appears to be: Fruits and vegetables at the market."
Machine-generated description for this image: "Appears to be: Person playing guitar on the sofa."

A long way from *perfectly* automated, but it's a substantial step forward on that front.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:36 AM on October 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

OK, let me try the long version: when AI progresses from telling what's in a picture to recognising what's actually important in a given context, I'll know it's here for good.

The task of meaningfully describing a picture, as shown in these tweets, requires surprisingly deep insight.
posted by hat_eater at 2:31 AM on October 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've been adding alt text on Twitter for a while (when I remember) but these are some useful tips for the best way to describe images.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:00 AM on October 15, 2019

This is great advice and should stand for all images on the web, not just tweets.
posted by tomp at 6:00 AM on October 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I get very few visitors on my site but just went back and added descriptions for all the photos on there, so thanks!
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:04 AM on October 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Also, if you are using hashtags, please capitalize each word.
posted by Etrigan at 6:23 AM on October 15, 2019 [22 favorites]

Reminder that one nice thing about Mastodon, is that this is a built in feature. Along with content warnings and spoiler boxes to block/black out images and/or text. It's something I wish was adopted by all social media spaces.

But good to know tweet deck has this feature. I wasn't aware. Mind you I've been mostly off of twitter, but still good to know it exists.
posted by Fizz at 6:55 AM on October 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

[Screenshot of a bunch of dumb text that should really be a link]
posted by aubilenon at 8:25 AM on October 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

today I just discovered that Tweetdeck/Tweetduck has this ability as well. I never knew!

Twitter was incredibly slow to roll this out on their platform which was aggravating to people who, say, could add alt text images when using the web interface but not (iirc) Tweetdeck. Or possibly it was the other way around. At one point you had to enable your ability to do it which was likewise a pain. You can now add alt text in Instagram which I find to be pretty worthwhile. The other thing which I think RobotHugs didn't mention is describing animated GIFs if you're replying to someone using only a reaction GIF which doesn't allow alt text. Many people will just add the description as a tweet along with the image. This can, however, sometimes ruin a joke, so sometimes people will make a mini-thread with the description of what is happening in the GIF. If you want a friendly bot to remind you to do this, follow PleaseCaption which can send you notes if you're posting images to Twitter without alt text.

Most content management systems make this pretty simple (I use WordPress and it's easy to add alt text) One notable hold out to alt text is Medium which could easily implement this and doesn't. I've taken to just using the image caption/description section underneath to describe the images I've included. I have a newsletter that I sent out via TinyLetter (easy to use at text for everything) and copy over to Medium and I let people know that one version isn't as accessible as the other.

That said, I run MLTSHP and we don't have alt text functionality on our image sharing site and it's one of the bigger things on our todo list right now and I'm flat out embarrassed we didn't build it in originally.
posted by jessamyn at 8:27 AM on October 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sounds like the PleaseCaption bot on Twitter isn't working anymore 😞
posted by exogenous at 11:07 AM on October 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

You still have to enable the feature. It's explained in the thread -- go to settings and privacy>accessibility and 'compose image descriptions' is an option. Check the box, make sure the setting sticks by clicking another settings option and back, and then when you post an image, you'll get a link below the picture to click to add the description.

I sort of wish this was more of a nag when you turned it on, like popping up a text box saying "enter image description" rather than a click-through. Especially since you have to turn it on so you're saying you WANT to do this. But hey, having the option to even do it is something I didn't know existed until about 24 hours ago, so hey! Happiness for it being there!
posted by hippybear at 7:49 PM on October 15, 2019

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