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Tips for Writing Descriptions

Accessibility Resources

Whenever you start something new, it feels more comfortable the more you do it.

Jessica Oddi

put it in the captions not comments

Nesting image descriptions in comments can get lost by screen readers and make it difficult to find. If someone helped you write them in a comment, copy and paste it in your caption. Then delete the comment to remove duplicates.

never assume race or gender

If you don't know the gender, race or ethnicity of a person you are describing, use gender neutral language and note skin tone. Examples: light, medium, or dark brown, tanned, white, etc.

focus on the purpose of the visual

What is the purpose of your post? Focus on key elements that convey the reason for the image or video. Example: if your image is to advertise a shirt, explain the details of the shirt design rather than the background.

type out all visible text in an image

If there is any text on the visual that is legible, type it out exactly how it is written. If it's not legible, make a note that text is present. Example: when describing a screenshot of a tweet, add the heading, username, and tweet.

write in a style that's comfortable

Visual descriptions can be short, blunt, descriptive, expressive, creative, long, etc. Here's an image I'm going to describe in 3 different ways as an example.

baby Jess

[basic]

ID: "Image Descriptions with baby Jess" text with a baby photo of her underneath. Sitting in a chair, Jess holds sunglasses down at her nose and has a pacifier in her mouth.

[descriptive]

Image description: Jess, as a baby, sitting in a large manual chair, holding her sunglasses down at her nose. She has white skin, and is dressed in a 90s style with a hat, patterned leggings, pink sunglasses and a pacifier. There are pegs and a toy bag on her tray. Text above reads "Image Descriptions with baby Jess" in a handwritten style.

[expressive]

Visual description: Baby Jess straight out of the 90s, rocking a baseball hat, pink sunglasses, and a pacifier so big she doesn't care if she's too old for it. Sitting in a manual wheelchair three times her size, she is holding her sunglasses down to her nose. With a sassy expression that lets you know she's clearly too cool for the toys on her tray. Text above in a fun outlined font reads "Image Descriptions with baby Jess."

keep freaking practicing

I'm always adapting my style and learning new ways to write descriptions. Whenever you start something new, it feels more comfortable the more you do it. You'll be more confident some day, but for today just start!

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resources

A collection of sources Jess has found through the years. From accessibility to disabled and community design spaces.

resource list

Edited scene of a cappuccino cup and saucer against a teal wall. With a gold handle and base. Labelled as whiskey. Flat table background with a thick shadow. Original photo by Alexandra Del Bello.

cappuccino mug labelled whiskey