Do you have a social media account? Then this blog post is for you!
What’s with the image descriptions on my socials?
You might have noticed I’ve recently made a big effort to do image descriptions on my photos on social media. Wait! Are you even following me on social media?!
I describe what the photo looks like in each post.
They’re for people who can’t see the image – they might use a screen reader (reads out text to them) or just want the image described.
I used to do this in my old comms job at a disability NFP, but wasn’t doing it on my own social media. I realised that my audience probably needs image descriptions and I want to be a good ally to people with different accessibility needs. Plus, I talk about access in my work so I really do need to walk the talk. So I have really been trying. Usually I’m straight forward but sometimes I’m cheeky – like here with Kerri Sackville when I talked about our boobs.
And image descriptions improve accessibility and SEO – if you’re into that . How great that image descriptions improves your reach AND provides inclusivity and accessibility to disabled people? Savvy AND altruistic!
it doesn’t cost any money to write image descriptions – only a little time – and once you get good at them, it will be quick sticks.
Plus, writing them makes you focus on what’s happening in the image.
The good news?
You don’t even need to be disabled to provide them! Just by writing them on your social media posts and web content, you’re making a whole new audience feel welcome at your space of the Internet.
What do image descriptions look like?
They are a short description in the body of text that accompanies an Image on social media. You might want to put the image description in the first comment – and state that in the body of the text. I usually preface the description with ‘Image:’.
Here is an example of an image description on one of my Instagram posts.
I posted this photo.
The text underneath the photo was:
“One of my usual poses. Laughing. Thanks for capturing this @prod.haus2. My dress is @witcheryfashion. 💛 Image: woman wearing long flowing yellow floral dress, standing with her hands on hips in front of a bright blue wall. Her face is red and her hair is short, dark and curly. She is looking to the side and laughing.”
Why do I say that my face is red in my image descriptions?
A few people have questioned – and been uncomfortable with.- me describing my face being red? (Yes the question mark was on purpose. Huh?)
Why do I do this?
Because my face is red. Because it’s factual. Because I’m not ashamed. Because I see disability as part of my identity. I describe other people as white or brown or black, or sitting in a wheelchair or with grey hair, so why shouldn’t I describe mine or others’ appearance? (And why are they uncomfortable?!)
How to describe an image:
Explain what you see to another person. Write simply, with as much or as little detail as you think is needed.
Look at the picture. Note what you see.
What colour is the person’s face? Is their hair long or short? Are they standing or sitting? Smiling? How are their arms positioned? What’s around them? What are they wearing? Are they looking at the camera or away?
What colour is the sky? How many sheep are there? Is the grass green or dying? Is the sea wild?
Have you got a large body of text that you’ve screen shot and shared on social media – like a press release? Before you post it, copy the text from the original source and paste it into the body of the social media post. Then write a preface, and upload the image. Easy!
Access the Webinar Transcript (with audio and embedded slides)
Twitter has an inbuilt image description function, and you can write them in the captions field on Instagram and Facebook.
Here’s how to caption videos on Facebook if you want to go a step further.
More info – including how to write your own image descriptions:
Has this post helped you or made you think differently? Will you use it in your classroom or workplace? Please consider buying me a drink!
My book Say Hello is out in early 2019! Buy it here