I have encountered more image descriptions on Mastodon in 24 hours than I have in Twitter in a couple of years. Seriously. I'm not exaggerating.
As a blind person, this means a lot to me. If you read this and you describe your images, thank you so, so, so much on behalf of all of us. If you don't, now you know you'll be helping random Internet strangers make sense of your posts by typing in a few more words than usual.
@Leftcel_Infilitrator Thanks for asking! Pinafore seems to just give you an edit field to type in a description when you upload any kind of media, but I am not sure how other clients do this.
long-ish (~1400 chars) post about hashtags on Mastodon, and accessibility.
Hashtags on Mastodon are primarily used for content discovery. Most servers/instances only allow you to search for toots by hashtags as search for any text in the message (often referred to as 'full-text search') is resource intensive.
So, if you want people to find your messages while searching for a specific topic, having the right hashtags in your message is often the only way. Not just for finding other people's messages, but also finding back an earlier status you posted yourself.
What can help people with screenreaders when it comes to hashtags, is to capitalise ever word in compound hashtags; also referred to as camel-casing. For instance, rather than #accessibilitytips, write #AccessibilityTips, as some (most?) screenreaders will use that as a word-boundary hint, and thus allow them to pronounce the hashtag as individual words.
Whether to use inline hashtags, replacing the actual word, or to list them all at the bottom of your post, is a personal preference from what I understood.
If you use a lot of hashtags, I assume a summary at the end rather than inline is probably better, but since I don't use a screenreader myself, I'll defer to the expertise of those that actually do use them.
@guilevi Thanks for mentioning this. I have never thought about it how important picture descriptions can be.
I will take care about that in the future for everything I publish.
@guilevi Yes yes yes! Image descriptions are a blessing!
I've described every image on my account, and Image descriptions are required by rule on RaRu.Re !!
@guilevi What sort of stuff makes a good description? Similarly, what should be avoided when writing image descriptions?
I do my best to describe everyhing I upload but I'm constantly worried there's things I'll type that screen readers or braille displays won't pick up on.
@pyredrid Thanks for the question! I don't think there are any implicit guidelines or rules for writing descriptions. I'd say just say what you think should be said. If the point of the image requires just a few words to come across, use a few words. If the details are important to you or to the post, write as much as you like.
@pyredrid There are lots of good guidelines on image description. Here's one https://mobile.twitter.com/robothugscomic/status/949324465191694337
Here's another https://www.perkinselearning.org/technology/blog/how-write-alt-text-and-image-descriptions-visually-impaired
Almost any text you write will be "picked up" by screenreaders but if you're worried about something you can always try activating the one that almost definitely comes standard on your phone/tablet/laptop/etc.
@guilevi MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
Seriously, I get a kick out of sneaking in extra info or carefully worded humour and puns in there. I know many others do.
A lot of my images are from the nearby national park. Do visual descriptions of lakes and trees make much sense to you? How do you perceive nature?
@dch They make perfect sense! I really appreciate carefully worded descriptions, especially if, like you said, they try to be somewhat humorous while still carrying meaningful information.
TO some extent, I think we make up our own abstract concepts of vision-centric terms, sometimes as plain relationships to other terms. I don't have much time now, but I'd definitely be up for talking about this at some point if you're interested.
@guilevi I admit 1 in 10 times or so I get lazy about it because I had never knowingly seen anyone on here who used them, but seeing this has kicked my ass into gear and I'll be sure to always do so! Thanks for the reminder!
Actually I don't put description on the images I toot there, usually because they're just funny ones and it stops being funny if it has to be described/explained so the extra work seems pointless to me.
Would you consider that acceptable ? When do you believe it is important to describe images ?
@lienrag It is not acceptable to not describe images of jokes. It excludes people.
This is a general problem: Abled people don't expect disabled people to participate in jokes and memes and shitposts, but we do. We don't want to be excluded from fun stuff our friends/peers are doing.
It doesn't ruin the joke to explain it; anyone who doesn't need/want to look at the description won't.
But even if it did, people matter more than jokes.
@FrazzledBrynn Totally, descriptions are good for many disabled people, not just visually impaired ones. And the "needing the joke explained" is a particular access need for neurodivergent people sometimes! Explanations also help people from different countries/cultures who won't share all the same references. @lienrag @guilevi
@FrazzledBrynn @lienrag @bright_helpings I had never realized this could be useful for you as well. Thank you for bringing that up. It's easy to think of these things as a solution to only oneself's own problems without thinking of the implications it may have for people in different situations. This is truly important and I really hope many people read your post.
@efi TTS won't help you much here. It does what it says on the tin, it reads out text. What you write is what we hear. :)
@guilevi I could make it so there's aria hints for different parts of the site, better timings and intonation, right now toots have a single aria tag iirc
@efi There's no way to directly affect most screenreaders universally. Most of the time we just want our text read concisely and as is. I can definitely try to help you set up some accessibility software for testing, though it's likely that your OS has some built in.
@guilevi I remember when I first got here how freaking blown away I was by that. It was such a weird novelty. But I’ve been here awhile now. Just wait, you’ll get so used to it in time you won’t blink anymore. It’s wild.
@guilevi Glad I am able to help. Do you have any tips or comments regarding image descriptions? like what is something people often forget to describe or describe inadequately?
@CanisMajoris There's no right or wrong way to do it really. It's all dependent on context. If you want people to absorb every detail, write detailed descriptions. If the point of the image in the context of the toot can be made clear with a concise one-liner, that's completely fine as well.
@guilevi For some of my comics instead of a image description I wrote it into a written version of the story. Is this a thing more people do? Because I think that's more enjoyable to read? But may be a bit long since the word limit for image descriptions is quite long, haha.
@guilevi and the pro aspect of image descriptions, you can add additional information over the default 500 character limit of mastodon ;-)
@guilevi I don't post many images, but when I do I always try to add a description. I never did it on the birdsite, I admit. I didn't even know it could be done
@sabrinaweb71 Thank you! Yeah, it's been a feature for a while, but many more people use it here than there.
A fun, happy little Mastodon/Hometown instance. Join us by the fire and have awesome discussions about things, stuff and everything in between! Admins: @Talon and @Mayana.