February is Low Vision Awareness Month
Vision impairment, including low vision, affects hundreds of thousands of people on the Fediverse, including me. Vision impairment can make it hard to enjoy the visual media that gets posted to Mastodon and the wider Fediverse, especially if it's a screenshot of text.
Adding a simple description takes a few extra seconds, and can make everyone's experience so much more enjoyable.
We know that not all apps are helpful in showing you how to add alternative text descriptions, and we know that not all apps do a great job of showing it if it's there, but to raise awareness we are going to blur or highlight your media on Fridays in February.
To simulate what some see all day every day, on Fridays we are going to make any media with no description just a little bit blurry or add a highlight border for a few hours.
Don't be offended, we aren't editing your pictures, they will show up 100% normal on Saturday and every day after that, but on Fridays, if your photo looks a little off, please consider adding a caption next time. It won't affect everybody nor every app, but hopefully just enough that we can stimulate some discussion.
To get help using captions try the #AltText hashtag or the #Alt4Me hashtag. And we know not everyone can add descriptions, this is not a rule, just a temporary way to raise some awareness of a larger issue, hopefully to see an overall increase in the number of people taking the extra couple seconds to add a caption.
If you operate a Mastodon server and would like to join in, simply choose an option (blur with unblur on hover, red dotted border, caution tape) from this CSS snippet to add to the custom CSS in your server settings and let your membership know using some of the educational links below.
It will take a minute or two to show up, and you can quickly remove it later in the day.
- https://mstdn.social/@feditips/107757781709598274 – thread on adding Alt Text
- https://mastodon.art/@Curator/109279035107793247 – another thread worth reading
- https://mastodon.ie/@mastodonie/109398218679478019 – one more great thread
- https://botsin.space/@PleaseCaption – friendly bot reminds you to add descriptive text
- https://webaim.org/techniques/alttext/ – a five minute read on how to add good captions
- https://tips.vivaldi.net/tip-174/ – how-to for Vivaldi Social and Blogs
This is what images will look like with the blur added:
Here's the red dot border option:
Here's an image that's not loaded, so the alternative text shows up:
Here's some #Defaidodon with a description
Participating? Let me know –> @firstname.lastname@example.org