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The Art and Science of Describing Images Part Two (W)

Art and Science of Describing Images Part Two opening slide
Art and Science of Describing Images Part Two opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars December 2nd saw a session focused on image description: part two in the series entitled, The Art and Science of Describing Images. This webinar focused on more complex images than Part One, with speakers Huw Alexander and Valerie Morrison digging deeper into how we approach alt text and long description. This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Valerie Morrison—Center for Inclusive Design & Innovation, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Huw Alexander—textBOX Digital

Session Overview

Huw Alexander opened this session giving us a brief resume of what the webinar will cover. The world has become driven by content especially in the digital space and, now more than ever, that content needs to be as accessible as possible. Over the last 10 years we have seen educational materials shift to a much more visual form of conveying information and society has followed suit. We need to be able to deliver this information so that it is accessible to everyone. Valerie Morrison and Huw then took us through a series of complex image types, giving us an overview of how they tackle describing them and sharing with us their top tips for success. Valerie admitted that she still finds many types of images daunting, even with her years of experience but if you have the right approach you can break it down and keep it simple for the reader. Below are some of the main points for each image type which can be found in greater detail in the slide deck, together with some excellent examples.

Maps and Choropleths

Maps

  • Always begin with a general overview giving a description of what the map is about
  • If there’s an inset table this might be a good  place to start
  • Only describe items which are contextually important to the map
  • Lists are useful in describing maps
  • Don’t worry about colors (unless it’s a choropleth) or symbols which often don’t carry significance

Choropleths

These type of maps display quantitive values for distinct spatial regions using color. Consequently, they require a slightly different approach:
  • Reference the title, the structure, the text key which may point to colors to measure the data, the scale and the trend analysis
  • A political choropleth may also need dates, emphasis and context, places of interest, edge boundaries and a  scale ratio

Timelines

  • Create one general overview sentence
  • Describe the range of the timeline
  • List some of the details

Bar Charts

  • Begin with the title and what the x and y axis denote
  • Describe how the chart has been arranged and why. Sometimes bar charts are arranged to create a visual impact and this might require highlighting
  • Describe each bar in regular, predictable ways

Supply and Demand Curves

  • Begin again with the title and an x and y overview, remembering that this is just a graph!
  • Describe the slopes and where they intersect
  • Keep it simple. It’s easy to get lost in the “word salad” with this type of image

Complex Infographics

  • Overview sentence should contain information on the basic parts of the infographic, the timeline and the illustrations it contains
  • Work from the general to the specific, filling in the details as needed
  • Make sure your description references: the title, the structure of the graphic, the information contained within each section, descriptions of the relevant images only, numbered list elements
  • Do not describe decorative images

Tables

  • Sometimes the tables are arranged specifically for sighted readers and you should sort the information out into more of a table to help readers process the amount of data.
  • Complex STEM Infographics are very hard to parse and it’s much easier if you can convert them into tables with specific columns. An example of how making images available in multiple modalities can help reach more learners eg. a dyslexic reader would benefit from this specific approach.
  • Consider adding structural alt text to your tables. This gives the reader a head start in understanding how the table is organized and allows them to create a mental map before they process the information that it contains.
Before taking questions, Huw ended the session by reminding us: You are trying to recreate the image and it’s impact for the reader. To do this you need to unravel the complexity it may involve and create a level playing field for all users.

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WordToEPUB Extended Tutorial (W)

WordToEPUB Extended Tutorial opening slide

WordToEPUB Extended Tutorial opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 29th saw a detailed session focused on our new groundbreaking tool, WordToEPUB, following on from the WordToEPUB introductory webinar held earlier in the series.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Dara Ryder, AHEAD Ireland, guest host
  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium
  • Joseph Polizzotto, U.C. Berkeley
  • Nancy Zhang, Provincial Resource Center for the Visually Impaired, British Columbia

Session Overview

Richard Orme introduced the themes of webinar, opening with an overview of the basics for anyone new to the WordToEPUB tool. WordToEPUB is free to use and can create EPUBs from accessible Word documents for any platform and reading app.

A point and shoot demo of an academic paper showed us just how straightforward the method of creating accessible EPUB can be using this tool which is available in multiple languages. The originating word document does have to be accessible in the first place. By clicking on the WordToEPUB button in the ribbon, a dialogue starts within which you can modify the file name and its location. You can also convert by right clicking on your document or you can run the tool from the desktop….easy and straightforward to create an accessible EPUB document.

There are many advanced features available in WordToEPUB and the rest of this webinar looked at these in some detail:

  • Accessibility checker and Headings report
  • Metadata and Word properties
  • Cover images
  • Languages​ (with a demo using the Thorium reader)
  • Table of Contents
  • Splitting level
  • Stylesheets
  • Pagination

Our presenters spoke about these from their unique perspectives giving us examples of use cases and practical insights into how WordToEPUB has been a game changer already. With default conversion options available within the preferences menu, there is much opportunity for this tool to create bespoke documents that work for your particular environment. The Q & A session was lively and worth catching up on! Feedback opportunities and release updates are available.

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The Art and Science of Describing Images (W)

Art and Science of Describing Images - title slide

Art and Science of Describing Images - title slideIn our series of free webinars July 22nd saw a session focused on the skill of writing image descriptions giving us an in-depth glimpse of how to approach various types of images.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Valerie Morrison, Center for Inclusive Design at The Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Huw Alexander, textBOX Digital

Session Overview

Valerie Morrison opened this session with reference to the 1st image description webinar that formed part of this series, held last month, which concentrated on best practice for publishers and explained that today’s session would look closer at editing tips for Alt Text and how to describe some of the more popular types of image.

The Art of Editing

Valerie had previously presented on her basic approach to image description and was useful to be able to go over these again in reference to today’s more detailed dive into the topic. Editing alt text is vital and being able to call on multiple people to perform a review is a good idea. Valerie gave our listeners 4 useful tips to help them craft effective descriptions:

Edit to Provide Clarity

Make sure you use specific language and simple word choices in order to be clear. Write out any acronyms and symbols and use proper grammar and punctuation

Edit to Organize Information

Work from the general to the specific and group like items together for ease of cognitive load. Organize information within your image description in predictable ways, listing similarities first.

Edit to Remain Neutral

Try not to instruct or go beyond what is contained within the image. You can describe actions or expressions but don’t attempt to interpret thoughts and feelings unless the context requires this.

Edit to Reduce Redundancy

Edit descriptions which are too wordy and cut unnecessary phrases. Avoid repeating a caption, if one is present, and try not to regurgitate the surrounding text.

Before moving on to some specific examples Valerie reminded us to consider the cognitive load of your reader. The average person can remember 7 items at a time so less is more where your image descriptions are concerned. Introducing fewer words helps the listener to process information more efficiently and by simplifying and reducing alt text length you care reducing auditory fatigue.

Describing the Most Popular Types of Image

Huw Alexander talked to us about a method that he and his team have devised to provide an organized approach to image description: the focus/LOCUS method which very much complements the approach that Valerie suggested, advocating working from the general to the specific along a pathway of scene-setting and story-telling.

Huw chose 7 image types for this particular webinar with the reassurance that other types will be looked at in future sessions in this series:

  • Bar charts
  • Pie charts
  • Line charts
  • Venn diagrams
  • Flow charts
  • Scatter plots
  • Photographs

showing us the major areas of focus for each and then providing an in-depth example of how it should be done. This level of information is invaluable to those of us who are writing image descriptions on a daily basis and we look forward to the next session (October 7th) which will look at info-graphics and timelines and how to describe these, as well as complex content, test and examination materials and, not forgetting, tables!

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Scaling Inclusion in the Transition to Remote Learning (W)

Scaling Inclusion webinar opening slide

Scaling Inclusion webinar opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 15th saw a session exploring how the rapid adoption of remote learning can benefit accessible resource creation, universal learning and inclusive design, finding a positive from the challenges many have faced in 2020.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Nicolaas Matthijs, Blackboard
  • Christopher Phillips, Utah State University
  • John Scott, Blackboard

Session Overview

Nicolaas Matthijs opened this session explaining that this webinar would focus on 3 main topics or lenses through which to explore approached to accessibility within the higher education arena.

Exploring Learning Theories and Tools to Support Diverse Learner Success

One File Doesn’t Fit All

The need for flexible materials has never been more important in order to:

  • Work with all types of assistive technology
  • To support low income students and mobile users who may only have access to low bandwidth
  • To support learning from home where schedules are busy and access requirements different

The Blackboard Accessibility tool makes digital course material more accessible by integrating with the LMS and reporting back to educators on the success of their content preparation for students with these requirements.

John Scott then reminded us of the importance of alternative formats which empower students with choice and give them multiple modes of representation to enhance cognitive processes. Ultimately, improved usability impacts the time spent on task and information retention.

Christopher Philiips discussed the impact of alternative formats at USU demonstrating how the LMS provides value for all learners when every file is integrated for every course and students have access in whichever environment works for them

How to Scale Professional Development to Impact Inclusive Course Design

Training educators is a crucial element of this journey many of whom have a limited awareness about digital accessibility, not helped by busy schedules and multiple responsibilities. The blackboard tool gives instructor feedback at all stages in the LMS, even when the user amends course content. A course accessibility report summarizes accessibility at course level and encourages instructors to build accessibility into their course material from the very start. These types of tools, supporting faculty give an insightful overview of issues, helping teachers find easy issues to get started on their inclusive design goals.

The Role of Data and Analytics

There is a mountain of content with lots of accessibility issues to be resolved! Content is constantly changing and currently there are insufficient remediation workflows in place to cope with this. The realization that accessibility issues affects all students shows that we need to be ready for fall classes when online learning will continue to be an important of our “new normal”.

Having the necessary data ready to support on-boarding new students and instructors with course content which is being prepared for this environment is going to be a vital part of the process.

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The Accessible EPUB Ecosystem in Action: Following the Journey from Publisher to Student (W)

Accessible EPUB Ecosystem opening slide

Accessible EPUB Ecosystem opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 8th saw a session about the journey accessible EPUB publications take to ultimately be delivered to students in their education establishments and our speakers came from organizations involved throughout this journey.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Michael Johnson, Benetech
  • Rachel Comerford, Macmillan Learning
  • Trisha Prevett, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Brendan Desetti, D2L

Session Overview

This webinar looked at aspects of the educational materials ecosystem for accessibility and Michael Johnson opened by summarizing what would be covered:

  • What is the Eco-System?
  • The Publishing Workflow
  • Accessible Titles in Retail
  • What is Happening on Campus
  • A View Inside a Learning Management System

Michael Johnson talked to us about what is happening now. Publishers are already creating accessible EPUBs, they are preparing files for 3rd party certification and accessible ebooks are are available for sale. There is reader software to support accessible EPUB files and campuses are buying accessible content and changing their procurement policies for their systems.

All elements in the workflow from the publisher to the point of retail, from being available for purchase to appearing within the LMS / library system, are part of the accessible eco-system. Our eco-system should be accessible from start to finish to benefit all students.

The business case is clear and Rachel Comerford reminded us that:

You or someone close to you has benefitted from accessibility work at least once in the last year / /month / week whether or not you consider yourself disabled.

The ingredients for an accessible environment must include:

  • The Data
  • The People
  • The Content
  • The Platform
  • The End Product

Rachel took us through each of these areas in relation to publishing in general and, more specifically, how Macmillan Learning have approached these.

Trisha Prevett gave us an insight into how this feeds into what is happening on campus, where they currently have 180,000 online students! Accessibility is more important than ever and impacts the following areas:

  • Procurement workflows
  • Electronic Information Technology
  • Assessment of Products
  • Relationships with contracted vendors
  • Cost of resources
  • Training of faculty and staff

Brendan Desetti spoke to us about Learning Management Systems and how accessibility affects the three areas:

  • Content: in supporting instructors with accessible course content
  • Process: in facilitating practice of universal design for learning
  • Platform: enabling accessibility and an equitable user experience

Brendan also showed us how D2L are ensuring that all layers of their LMS are attending to these.

Michael Johnson summarized :

  • This is indeed all happening now
  • A Born Accessible EPUB is a better EPUB
  • This is all real work and very do-able
  • Campuses must insist that their vendors are compliant
  • Publishers and platform folk should make sure they are compliant

Accessibility is about meeting the specifications but also about the user experience, the audience response, the assistance and support that comes with a product, and the change that the product undergoes.

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A World Tour of Inclusive Publishing Initiatives (W)

World Tour of Inclusive Publishing Initiatives opening slide

World Tour of Inclusive Publishing Initiatives opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars July 1st saw a session focused on activities taking place globally to promote inclusive publishing practices.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Hugo Setzer, Manual Moderno and The International Publishers Association
  • Deborah Nelson, eBound Canada
  • Brad Turner, Benetech
  • Kirsi Yianne, NIPI and IFLA

Session Overview

This week we mixed things up a little and had a brief whistle-stop tour of what is happening around the world before opening up to our esteemed panel for a larger discussion for the greater portion of the webinar. Richard Orme guided us through various initiatives from a variety of countries. There is so much happening and this is a truly exciting time for accessible publishing everywhere. We hope that some of the initiatives presented will inspire you in your market and help you to further the good work within the publishing industry.

During this time we also ran a poll to find out where our audience hails from: 56% from North America, 30% from Europe, 9% from Asia and 5% from South America so we were delighted to have such a global audience with us on this journey.

Panel Discussion

The discussion opened with a lively chat focusing on a few key themes as listed below. For a fuller overview we recommend listening to the video recording.

The Accessibility Eco-System

Hugo Setzer empahisized the importance of an entire eco-system that works together to achieve accessible experiences. Deborah Nelson sees awareness of vendors as being a hurdle within the eco-system and how we should be encouraging users to motivate these partners into action.

End User Awareness

Kirsi Yianne discussed engagement with end users to drive awareness. NIPI have worked hard to understand the needs of print disabled readers and how their needs should involve the entire eco-system.

Supporting Regulation

Kirsi Yianne reminded us all that the European Accessibility Act will come into force in 2025. Standards are vital to help with compliance to the new rulings.

International Standards and Compliance

All our panelists commented on the importance of international standards to drive compliance.

Brad Turner explained how the Benetech GCA Certification System is underpinned by international standards. GCA uses WCAG Level 2 as their gold standard. Compliance in the USA tends to be at an educational level and Higher Ed establishments are looking to publish accessible materials.

Deborah Nelson told us about the plans in Canada to develop a certification scheme as a result of their Landscape Research report. eBound Canada plans to run a pilot of the Benetech GCA scheme to see what certification will look like for 250 independent Canadian publishers.

Advocacy, Training and Expert Support

Training and awareness is a major portion of the Canadian research project and Deborah Nelson puts the end user at the very center of this project, helping to build a knowledge base and an understanding of accessibility needs.

The work of organizations such as DAISY, WIPO & ABC drives awareness building. Hugo Setzer pointed our audience towards the practical training tools provided by ABC, commenting that may publishers around the world are working hard to ensure the accessibility of their content.

Call to Action

Each panelist was asked to briefly tell us what our main takeaway from this session should be:

  • Deborah Nelson: Make sure you are able to communicate the business case
  • Brad Turner: Learn about Born Accessible and take the first step by reaching out for help
  • Hugo Setzer: Sign the Accessible Publishing Charter which is available in 7 languages from ABC
  • Kirsi Yianne: Do not wait until 2025 for the European Accessibility Act. Start learning now

In a final poll about the greatest perceived challenges to implementing inclusive publishing practices the webinar audience voted as follows:

  • 33% Business case is hard to make
  • 30% Do not know where to start
  • 30% No strong laws to make it happen
  • 7% The tools don’t exist

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DAISY Consortium Showcase 2020

DAISY Showcase Opening Slide

DAISY Showcase Opening SlideA component of the 2020 DAISY AGM was a showcase presentation highlighting some of the work being conducted, and the impact of that work around the world.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Showcase

 

Linked Resources

We have lots more information about the activities mentioned in the Showcase throughout the DAISY website. You can find further information about the content Links to DAISY activities mentioned in the recording:

DAISY Vision and Mission

Accessibility Standards

Essential tools:

Collaborative projects:

Driving inclusive publishing

Extending the DAISY community

Downloadable Items

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Describing Images in Publications—Guidance, Best Practices and the Promise of Technology (W)

Describing Images in Publications opening slide

Describing Images in Publications opening slideIn our series of free weekly webinars June 17th saw a session focused on the process of authoring quality image descriptions which are essential for accessibility.

This page contains:

Full Video of the Webinar

Speakers

  • Richard Orme, The DAISY Consortium—host and chair
  • Valerie Morrison—Center for Inclusive Design & Innovation, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Charles La Pierre—Benetech
  • Gregorio Pellegrino—The LIA Foundation

Session Overview

Practical Tips and Advice for Writing Image Descriptions

Valerie Morrison gave us the benefit of her expertise to open this webinar giving our audience a list of best practice tips which can be applied to all image descriptions. These included:

  • Summarize what you see to begin with in one general and informative sentence
  • Keep your description neutral and informative
  • Use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. Avoid hard line breaks.
  • Avoid acronyms and symbols (remember a screen reader will be reading everything you include)
  • Work from general to specific to provide a framework for the listener
  • Think about providing information in multiple modalities to vary the experience
  • Make sure that the surrounding text does not already describe the image. Avoid overlap

Knowing how long a description should be and when to stop is also important and Valerie recommends keeping to approx 125 characters. It can be hard to restrict the length of a description but screen reader software has limits. If an image is simply a photograph of a person, for example, it may be that the name of that person will suffice (depending on the context). Simple graphics can usually be described in one sentence and, whilst this can be challenging, this makes it easier for the listener—you don’t want to overload them.

Valerie’s slides give lots of examples of all of these useful notes with guidance given on describing symbols, charts and graphs.

Resources

Charles La Pierre presented the work of the DIAGRAM Center and the various resources that it offers the publishing industry. The POET tool is an image description training tool which focuses on:

  • When to describe images—is the information contained within the image essential to understanding?
  • How to describe images
  • Practice describing images

The Diagrammar resource is a framework for making images and graphics accessible. This data model provides a structured, standard way for image description data to be modeled.

Using AI to Automate Image Description

Gregorio Pellegrino presented the recent Italian project testing AI tools within the publishing industry with the goal of producing born accessible content. Results from this project revealed that:

  • some tools are better than others at identifying certain types of images
  • while the image category can be identified, more work is required before image descriptions are reliably produced

Depending on how images are classified, depends on which tool should be used and the next phase of this project will look to define an all-embracing taxonomy for image classification. This will enable the creation of datasets for training.

Publisher Approaches

Richard Orme presented comments and thoughts from 4 publishers who kindly agreed to participate in this webinar. See the slides for their full thoughts and comments

Kogan Page

Current Practice—descriptions are outsourced to vendors as it was decided not to proceed with author descriptions. These vendors provide alt text and extended descriptions.

Advice—Develop guidelines for your vendors with a small library of examples. Make sure you control costs and spot check descriptions when submitted by vendors.

Macmillan Learning

Current Practice—image descriptions are produced by a number of sources: the author, outsourced alongside ebook creation, description specialists or in-house

Advice—Descriptions are content so the same rules apply, be careful with the length of your descriptions

John Wiley & Sons

Current Practice—Alt text is written by subject matter experts which goes through a QA process. In-house training is provided to ensure understanding of descriptions are used with AT.

Advice—Become familiar with different image concepts, the various types of descriptions and when to apply them. Remember that alt text is there to describe, not teach.

W.W. Norton

Current Practice—image descriptions are outsourced to specialists towards the end of production. All descriptions are checked in-house for which there is extensive training provided

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Skippable and Escapable Elements in EPUB 3

photo of a hurdle on a running track

photo of a hurdle on a running trackIntroduction

At Dedicon, we strive to make information accessible to people with reading disabilities. Our roadmap aims to deliver a personalized, multi-modal reading experience to all of our customers. We expect that EPUB (version 3) will form the cornerstone of our future products, so over the last three years we have been exploring the features of EPUB as the go-to standard for inclusive publishing[1].

This article discusses two features in particular: skippability and escapability. We highlight their importance for the reading experience of people with a reading disability, but must conclude that these features are not widely supported at this time. We therefore want to engage developers in adding support for these features to their reading systems, and to gather information from other content providers about the alternatives they employ while support in reading systems is missing.

Customer needs and wishes are changing. There is a shift from standardized to personalized content. For example, someone could read large print in the morning and switch to human voice audio in the evening when reading print becomes too much of a strain. Or someone could listen to the audio version of a book, while preferring to see enlarged images rather than listening to image descriptions. EPUB allows us to build the rich, multi-modal products in which users can freely choose how they want to read. However, when synchronized audio is included or when a read-aloud function is available, we believe that skippability and escapability are features that are essential to offer the user. These features ensure that users receive the information they need without being overwhelmed by information that is irrelevant to them. This is increasingly important as publications become more complex.

Skippability and escapability

The W3C defines skippable and escapable elements as part of the EPUB Media Overlays specification, which also contains examples. An element is skippable if it can be excluded from being read. For example, sometimes you want to ignore secondary content such as footnotes or page breaks. Skippability is also useful for content alternatives that cater to a specific audience, such as image descriptions.

An element is escapable if it can be jumped out of at any point while being read. For example, you may want to stop reading a longer piece of content such as a table before reaching the end. Finally, an element can be both skippable and escapable, meaning that you can turn it on or off as well as jump out of it halfway through.

Skippability and escapability can also be applied to the read-aloud feature of a reading system, the only significant difference being that speech is synthesized instead of pre-recorded. Control of the (synthesized) audio playback remains the responsibility of the reading system. This is different from accessing the text of a publication using a screen reader. A typical screen reader offers many options for customizing its output, including features like skippability and escapability. However, not everyone who could benefit from these features will use a screen reader. People with dyslexia are much more likely to take advantage of a read-aloud function.

The state-of-the-art in reading systems

During 2018 through early 2020, we investigated the state-of-the-art of multi-modal reading in accessible EPUB (version 3) reading systems, both hardware and software. These tests did not reveal a reading system that supports skippability and escapability in media overlays. In fact, support for media overlays in general was often not available. For many reading systems, this would be a fundamental step towards multi-modal reading. For now, the limitations we encountered mean that we must strike a balance between delivering all the rich content we have to offer and giving customers too much content to listen to.

Read-aloud features of reading systems perform a bit better. For example, in the read-aloud feature of VitalSource Bookshelf it is possible to enable or disable reading of text alternatives for images. This is a promising starting point, because as the world becomes more and more visual, image descriptions should become an integral part of many accessible publications. Being able to turn them on and off aids the personalized reading experience, but is no longer sufficient when descriptions become longer, necessitating escapability as well. It would also be good to see support for other elements besides images, such as notes and page numbers.

Exploring the alternatives

Coming back to the compromise resulting from the limitations of reading systems, we could also try to remedy the situation in our content. The key requirement here remains the same: the publication must be suitable for a broad variety of users. The only feasible solution that we found is to use scripting technologies, such as JavaScript, to allow the user to toggle features on and off within the content itself. Besides the question of how to store the state of the EPUB between reading sessions, this could be a good solution to implement skippability. Escapability is a different problem, though, because the reading system controls the playback and scripting cannot influence this. Another option is to use another content format, but this imposes limits on other functionality, such as interactivity. We would like to invite other content producers to share their experiences in this area.

Conclusion

Skippable and escapable elements are important for a personalized, uncluttered reading experience. They allow the user to skip or pass over elements of a book, but also allow the content provider to include additional content without the user having to read all of it. Skippable and escapable elements are not widely supported yet, although in theory our content is ready for it, provided that the reading system is designed to support these functionalities. We would like to urge developers to invest in these features, but are also eager to learn about alternative strategies from other content providers.

Authors: Davy Kager (Product manager) and Vincent de Jong (Project manager)

Dedicon, The Netherlands

[1] The exploration of accessibility features as well as testing other state-of-the-art EPUB features in reading systems was part of a project which was made possible through funding from the National Library of The Netherlands.

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