DescribeIT: supporting blind and partially sighted students by describing images

Improving access to online teaching materials for blind and partially sighted students.

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DescribeIT: supporting blind and partially sighted students by describing images

Help us test DescribeIT, a crowdsourcing system to improve access to online teaching materials for blind and partially sighted students.

Online teaching materials contain many images. Some of these images are only decoration. However, many images are important to understanding the material and being able to learn it. Blind and partially sighted students are not be able to learn effectively if they do not know what is in the images, but lecturers do not have time to provide an explicit explanation of every image they use in their teaching materials.

The DescribeIT application allows participants to provide descriptions of images for blind and partially sighted students. Participating in this project will improve your skills to make websites, apps and software accessible to blind and partially sighted people. Following our image description guidelines will help you learn how to provide good image descriptions.

Guidelines for Describing Images for Blind and Partially Sighted Students

  1. Read the text provided with each image, the text can help you to understand the image, and you can build your description on that.

  2. Think about the information that you can see in the image that is not available on the text on the slide. Think about what is important in the image and not discussed in the text.

  3. In your description you should take the following aspects in your consideration:

• What objects, people, locations are shown in the image?

• What are the interesting and important features of the contents of the image?

• What are the colours in the image – describing the colours in an image is very useful to blind students, even if they have never seen colour themselves, they usually know the colours of things, and describing colours can help them to learn about them.

• What are the sizes, orientations and relationships of objects – this information can be very helpful for blind students. So in your description think about the size and orientation of objects and describe objects in relation to one another.

Here is an example of an image description to help you (this is not necessarily a perfect description, but will give you an idea of what might be useful)

Photograph by Val Corbett, (c) Yorkshire Garden Trust.

Description A colour photograph of part of a garden with lawn surrounded by trees and shrubs. The sun is shining from the right, creating stripes of light and dark green across the lawn. In the middle background of the photo is a very broad tree with an almost black trunk. The other trees and shrubs edging the lawn have many types of leaves and trunks, creating many patterns in many different shades of green.