Requiring Image Descriptions

I’d like Sociocracy for All to embrace the policy of always including image descriptions to make our materials accessible to screen readers.

Where this can show up

  • Having people write image descriptions below any image used on the forum, in documents, etc.
  • Making sure PDFs retain their text
  • Adding alt text to all website images
  • Training members on how to include image descriptions

Resource on Image Descriptions

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Yes, I fully support having a policy about this, It’s easy to apply but takes some intentionality.

For use by screen readers, the relevant field is the ALT Description, see screenshot.

In our WordPress editor that can sometimes be confused with the “Description” field further below.

Notice too, the link — “Describe the purpose of the image” — to a decision tree about when to describe images and when not to. Here’s the direct link:

And here’s a tutorial for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) compliance. I learned about WCAG through a consultation paid by SoFA with a person who is blind from birth and accesses web content with a screen reader.

Finally, this could be part of a paid role in SoFA, at least in a first pass and before the suggested policy of applying ALT descriptions to images is applied consistently.


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This lives in the newly formed Web Content Publishing Circle, I’ll make sure it makes it into the blog post guidelines and folks publishing content get trained on this.

Going back through old content to add this is a significant task, but we can make sure new pages implement this as well. There are significant overhauls planned as capacity allows so the changes should be able to come around.

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This makes sense! I would say for old content to prioritize the images that are available for other people to use in their sociocracy content. I remember that the website hosts a collection of images like circle structure, range of tolerance, etc. Unfortunately I can’t find it at the moment, but that one would be ideal, not just including alt text on the website, but actually providing it in text form for others to copy and paste.

It sounds like in that latter part you’re also suggesting captions, not for screenreaders but just for general users, am I understanding correctly?

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Correct! That way if anyone uses the images themselves they clearly see the image descriptions as well and can copy them over to their documents.

I also recognize that not all folks find writing image descriptions accessible! I’m thinking we could start a pool of folks at Sociocracy for All who can support the community by writing image descriptions, giving feedback, and sharing practices.

This is also important from a marketing perspective - robots are blind, having alt text is important for discoverability.

A tool like this is very useful for point out forgotten parts of websites that could use a bit of alt text, smaller image files, etc:

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