Alt-Texts in Structured Commons
Upcoming: Please join our session at Wikimania: Imagine all images described: Alternative text to images as cohesively structured data on Commons
In order to make Wikipedia accessible for blind people, it is necessary to supply its images with short alt-texts and successively also with longer image descriptions. It is assumed, that everybody understands that and everybody agrees with it. But providing every single picture with an adequate alt-text takes a lot of time. Every alt-text means some minutes of work.
Extra work. It should be known and appreciated that everybody who is already spending time in Wikimedia-Projekts efforts for the goal free knowledge.
That is, we are thankful for every help:-)
How can we engage a part of the community in writing alt-texts:
- through an awareness campaign
- through a competition
- through what else? We are thankful for your suggestions.
But considering the size of the task - we are talking about 70 million pictures - in our specific project in de:wp it is planned from interested people to reach out to schools, universities, community colleges etc to let their students in art, art history, German Language, creative writing etc write and edit alt-texts and image descriptions for Wikipedia.
In all of these subjects image descriptions are on the curriculum anyway. There are good pedagogic reasons to reinforce this. To describe an image with a person in mind who is not able to see it, makes us look more closely and sharpens our perception. To try to describe it precisely, develops our articulacy. And to know to help blind people is an additional incentive. Students are very good image describers, too. If it is part of curricula, once they are doing it they even like it. It’s a pleasant task.
It is possible to reach out to tech companies that are developing image description AI. Sooner or later we will need image description AI in order to get all images described permanently. Currently image description AI is lagging far behind image recognition AI and translation AI, but if we want all images to be described we will need automatic descriptions.
In order to facilitate such cooperation it will be necessary to structure our alt-texts and images descriptions. Therefore it is necessary to approve projects like Structured Data and Structured Commons very much. They will furthermore allow the combination with translation AI which is far better developed than image description AI and can also help to develop it further.
The Project should support the establishment of an accessibility department in WMF.