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#AccessMeans
Celebrating
Global Accessibility Awareness Day
2021
Alt-text as poetry
Acreative look at the importance of alt text from
Nexer’s content team
Justin Darley
@Just_UX
• What is alt text and why is it important?
• Writing alt text can be hard
• How poetry can help
• Your turn
• Some resources
people have a long-term disability, worldwide
1 in 7
people in the UK
have some form of disability
21%
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attach
ment_data/file/791271/family-resources-survey-2017-18.pdf
• Disability is more common than you
may think
• We will all experience some kind of
disability at some point
• By the age of 45, most of us will need
glasses
• Yet many websites do not support
dynamic text
• Many people on iPhone use “Large
Text”; a lot of apps aren’t compatible
Even if you never edit a website, you have the option to improve
accessibility every time you:
Tweet
Post on Facebook
Build a PowerPoint slide show
Write a blog post…
And even if you never do those things, you can influence those who
do.
https://alt-text-as-poetry.net/
Alternative text provides a textual alternative to non-text content (for example images)
in web pages
This text can be provided on the page in descriptions around non-text content
Alt text is alternative text provided in HTML code as an “alt” attribute
Alt text is read out by screen readers so that screen reader users can access the image
“Adding alternative text for images is the first principle of web accessibility”
https://webaim.org/techniques/alttext/
alt="Two hexagon shaped photographs
with a smaller picture slightly overlaid by
a larger picture. In the small picture,
people are grouped around a table
chatting and drinking tea. In the larger
picture, a ginger haired white man is sat
down, concentrating, and looking at a
laptop."
alt="A woman looks unhappy at the one
cherry tomato on her plate"
• How would you describe the
image?
• Type your answers in the chat
• Here it is again with some context
• Does this change your approach?
• Answer in the chat
I was reminded of the idea of alt text as poetry by my colleague Lisa (poet and Content
Designer at Nexer)
She sent me this site: https://alt-text-as-poetry.net/ created by disabled activists and
artists Bojana Coklyat and Shannon Finnegan (I wrote to them to ask if I could use their
materials*)
I can’t hope to cover all of it today, please check it out
*They said yes, the materials are also available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0
International License.
• Attention to language
• Word economy
• Experimental spirit
• What words are we using?
• What are their connotations?
• What is the tone of our writing (the way in which we’re doing the writing)?
• What is the voice (who the reader hears)?
• How do these align with, or contrast, the tone and perspective of the image?
• Alt-text usually aims for brevity
• For most images, one to two sentences will do
• Poetry has a lot to teach us about paring down language to create something
that is expressive, yet concise
• There are lots of complex and interesting questions that come up when
translating visual information into text
• We need to try out different ways of doing this, learning from each other's
strategies and techniques
Part 1
• Choose one of the images on the right
• In the chat, list things (objects, people,
stuff, nouns) that are present in the image
or related to the image.
• Aim to write 5 words, but if you are on a
roll, write as many as come to mind.
Part 2
• List descriptive words or adjectives that
describe the image, a part of the image, or
your response to it. How does it make you
feel? What’s the mood of the image? What
associations do you have?
• Again, aim to write 5 words, but if you are
on a roll, write as many as come to mind.
With the same image
• In the chat, write a single sentence to
describe the image. The sentence should
capture whatever you think is most important
about the image.
• Now write a second sentence about the
second most important thing in, or about, the
image.
• Write a third sentence about the third most
important thing.
We’ll discuss together
https://webaim.org/techniques/alttext/
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/accessibility/
https://accessibility.oit.ncsu.edu/it-accessibility-at-nc-state/developers/accessibility-
handbook/
https://adamsilver.io/articles/
https://design-system.service.gov.uk/
https://www.a11yproject.com/
https://www.digitala11y.com/
https://www.24a11y.com/
https://hiddedevries.nl/en/blog/
https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/Accessibility
Alt text is important
Alt text is like life: it can be tricky, but poetry helps
You can make a difference
Check out alt-text-as-poetry.net
Get in touch (@Just_UX)
@castoncook
• how we are taught to write
• plain English
• how to write to be understood
We are taught to write in order to show how smart we are.
We are taught to write in order to show how smart we are.
We learn to impress our teachers and peers with complexity.
We are taught to write in order to show how smart we are.
We learn to impress our teachers and peers with complexity.
We begin to write for ourselves.
They may forget what you said – but they will never forget
how you made them feel.
- Carl W. Buehner
Plain English is…
Communication that allows your audience
to understand the first time.
Plain English is…
Communication that allows your audience
to understand the first time.
A message, written with the reader in mind and with the right tone of voice, that is
clear and concise.
Plain English helps people who are:
• multi-tasking
• stressed
• in a hurry
Plain English helps people who have cognitive, visual or motor impairments.
It is an accessibility issue and a sign of respect.
Use short, simple sentences.
Use short, simple sentences.
Split long sentences up, or use bullet points.
Use short, simple sentences.
Split long sentences up, or use bullet points.
Avoid complex sentence structures.
Use short, simple sentences.
Split long sentences up, or use bullet points.
Avoid complex sentence structures.
Choose easy and short words not formal, long ones.
Use short, simple sentences.
Split long sentences up, or use bullet points.
Avoid complex sentence structures.
Choose easy and short words not formal, long ones.
Explain specialist terms.
Use short, simple sentences.
Split long sentences up, or use bullet points.
Avoid complex sentence structures.
Choose easy and short words not formal, long ones.
Explain specialist terms.
Never use vague words and jargon.
Use specific, meaningful headings.
Use specific, meaningful headings.
Front-load your headings so they are easier to scan.
Keep paragraphs short.
Keep paragraphs short.
Use sub-headings for longer content.
Keep paragraphs short.
Use sub-headings for longer content.
Use bullet points to split up longer sentences.
Make link text meaningful.
Make link text meaningful.
Avoid mid-sentence links.
Be clear what the 3 main things are you want to get across.
Be clear what the 3 main things are you want to get across.
Make it practical - how will this help?
Be clear what the 3 main things are you want to get across.
Make it practical - how will this help?
Write in a plain language, short sentences and paragraphs.
Be clear what the 3 main things are you want to get across.
Make it practical - how will this help?
Write in a plain language, short sentences and paragraphs.
Make it easy to scan with headings and subheadings.
Read your writing aloud.
Read your writing aloud.
Ask someone to read it for you.
Read your writing aloud.
Ask someone to read it for you.
Pair write.
Who cares?
Who cares?
Is it compelling?
Who cares?
Is it compelling?
Is it clear?
Who cares?
Is it compelling?
Is it clear?
Is it complete?
Who cares?
Is it compelling?
Is it clear?
Is it complete?
Is it concise?
Who cares?
Is it compelling?
Is it clear?
Is it complete?
Is it concise?
Is it correct?
I love to write.
But it has never gotten any easier to do,
and you can’t expect it to,
if you keep trying for something better than you can do.
- Ernest Hemingway
Lisa Matthews
@Poetech3
Dyslexia:
notes from the field
Dyslexia
Notes
from
the
field
A note about the format for the next 20 mins
This presentation is made in Powerpoint.
It's a slide deck, however, it can also be labelled
as a durational artwork.
As a poet and creative writer, I use Powerpoint to
share content in a variety of artistic ways.
Today, I will be reading some slides aloud.
And sometimes I won’t read aloud.
For those of you using assistive tech, I will let you
know when a gap is coming.
Order of field notes
1.A definition of dyslexia
2.My dyslexia, day-to-day
3.The superpower
4.Things not to say
5.Things that help
6.The good and not-so-good
Field note 1.
A definition
Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems
with reading, writing and spelling.
It's a specific learning difficulty, which means it causes problems
with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading and writing.
It's estimated up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK has some degree
of dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a lifelong problem that can present challenges on a daily
basis, but support is available to improve reading and writing skills
and help those with the problem be successful at school and work.
www.nhs.uk/conditions/dyslexia
Field note 2.
My dyslexia, day-to-day
Series of single word slides to follow there will be a gap for those of
you using assistive tech.
When
unexpected
things
happen,
especially
at
work
– and
especially
using
digital
technology,
my
cognitive load
goes
through
the
roof
and
I
can’t
keep
up
with
what
is
happening
around
me
When unexpected things
happen, especially at work
– and especially using
digital technology, my
cognitive load goes through
the roof and I can’t keep
up with what is happening
around me.
What is 'cognitive load'?
In simple words, cognitive load is the amount of working memory used
during any activity. When the cognitive load is reasonable, the working
memory is able to process information more easily.
edited from Wikipedia
High cognitive load creates
lots of challenges for me.
These challenges are always
very stressful .
Here's a selection of the
most common.
Words
and
pages
My challenges include:
Letters in words jumble
and scramble
Words and letters jump
around on the screen or
page
- by themselves, as in I
can't control it at all
*
Words and numbers invert
and mirror –
especially sequences like:
• 123,or 789;
• ea/ae, or iu/ui
*
I mis-type,
all the time.
And mis-typing is not the
same as making some typos
I type 'd' instead of ‘b’
- and vice versa
- again, I can't control
this at all
I miss ‘t’ and ‘r’ out of
lots of words
*
Words are replaced and I
have no idea when this
happens.
Screens
During periods of anxiety,
usually triggered by high
cognitive load –
I experience what I call
'screen blindness' or
'screen blur'–
Screen blindness, and
screen blur, are not
clinical terms
They are descriptions I
have made up to try and
convey what happens as
part of my dyslexia
My anxiety is triggered, a
lot of the time, by the
digital technology itself
– as well as my own fear
of having an attack of
screen blindness
This is – sort of – what
screen blindness and
screen blur look like.
Sort of.
Nexer Digital
website:
low cognitive load
no screen blur
rising cognitive load
screen blur begins
high cognitive load
screen totally blurred
high cognitive load
I can lose colour(s)
high cognitive load
words, sentences
and paragraphs
can invert
Series of single word slides to follow there will be a gap for those of you
using assistive tech.
I
read,
jump
around
on
the
screen
I
words
jump
around
on
the
screen
When I read,
words jump around
on the screen
Confusion
once my screen
blurs it's
hard to take
anything in
people speak,
but all I hear
is...
blah
blah
blah blah
blah
blah
Field note 3.
The superpower
Dyslexia allows me to see
the world in creative and
unexpected ways
This is brilliant when
I want to see the world
in unexpected and
creative ways
However, dyslexia is
the opposite of a
superpower in certain
situations – like:
in an interview
during a presentation
(giving them, not attending
them)
driving in new places
in an exam, or test
real time messaging (Teams,
Slack etc.)
when people use jargon,
technical terminology or
lots of long words
Field note 4.
Things not to say
Series of statements to follow there will be a gap for those of you using
assistive tech.
“Oooh you have a superpower”
“I wish I had a superpower”
“I’m a rubbish speller too”
“We’re all a bit dyslexic”
“Don't worry about it”
“Don't worry about it, we all
struggle with this stuff”
Things not to say:
"Oooh you have a superpower
"I wish I had a superpower too"
"I'm a rubbish speller too"
"We're all a bit dyslexic"
"Don't worry about it"
“Don't worry about it, we all struggle with this stuff”
Field note 5.
Things that help
• Having time to prepare
• Others being aware
• Clear messaging/microcopy
• Consistent content
• Congruent content
• Breadcrumbs
• Back function
• Undo function
• Lilac screen filter/ page
overlay
• Dark mode option, which I
always switch on
• Chat bots as alternative
navigation
Field note 6.
The good and not-so-good
• Animated
modals to make
form filling
easier
• Seamless
experience =
great content
design
The best content design and user experience:
TV Licensing
• Lots of data
input required
at onboarding
• I inevitably
mis-type
• Put me in a
sign-up loop
that lasted 20
mins
• Access help
took me to
general help
section
Not-so-good design and user experience:
PayByPhone - onboarding
A closing thought…
Design can’t cure my
dyslexia, and no design
will ever be perfect.
However, good content
design and awareness can
really help.
This is why I choose to be
a content designer at
Nexer Digital.
And this is why GAAD is so
important.
D
y
s
l
e
x
i
a
Notes
from
the
field
Dyslexia:
notes from the field
Lisa Matthews, senior content designer,
Nexer Digital
lisa.matthews@nexergroup.com
@poetech_poetech (Insta) / Poetech3 (Twitter)
Global accessibility awareness day 2021

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Global accessibility awareness day 2021

Editor's Notes

  1. ,
  2. This talk is called The importance of plain English, but it would be easier to understand the message if I’d called it
  3. but why is that? hopefully I can explain in the length of time it takes me to drink this cup of tea.
  4. I’m aiming this talk at people who have to write for their job, but aren’t super nerdy about it, if that isn’t you, please bear with me. We are going to cover some pretty big topics quickly and I’ll share some universal rules and tips that will help you with your own writing. People devote their whole careers to topics that I’m about to strip of nuance and summarize in 10 minutes, the truth is that I’m not going to say anything that people much smarter than me haven’t said already but the internet is still full of content that is inexplicably difficult to understand, so here I am.
  5. We write to pass exams, we write essays to get good grades, we are taught to write to express ourselves, to communicate our feelings, to show how much we have understood or learnt. We learn to use complexity as a way of standing out.
  6. This is the fundamental thing that we need to understand, and the key thing I want to impress upon you today. When we write, we need to worry less about appearing smart, and worry more about being understood.
  7. So I found out that this isn’t a Maya Angelou quote, but I still want to use it. We need to write to be understood, we need to communicate with respect for our audience.
  8. Plain English is a way of showing respect for the people who interact with your content.
  9. Plain English is easier to understand and it allows you to get your message across more easily, and in a friendlier way. The person interacting with your writing doesn’t have the benefit of knowing what you are thinking as you write it. Using plain English gives them the best chance of understanding. .
  10. You need to think about who your audience is, the context they will receive your writing, can you say the same thing with less words, are there any vague words or jargon that I can swap for something more direct. We are looking to remove any elements of doubt. It’s not about what you are thinking, the reader only has the content you give them, not your thought process.
  11. My speaker notes for this slide just say “I feel seen”
  12. My speaker notes for this slide just say “I feel seen”
  13. Clear writing should have an average sentence length of 15-20 words. 25 words is a good maximum sentence limit. You can mix up shorter and longer sentences to build up a sense of flow, but the longer your sentence is, generally, the harder it is for people to comprehend. A good way to test this is to read it aloud. If you can’t read it aloud without rushing and gasping for air, then you need to edit it.
  14. You can break sentences down. But often the easiest thing to do is use a list.
  15. We are trying to reduce the cognitive effort for our audience. Again, it’s important to remember that your audience is not blessed with the knowledge of what you are trying to say. You know what you’re trying to say and your brain will fill in the gaps without you even realizing. That’s why getting someone to look at your writing before you send or publish it is so important.
  16. Write for the reading comprehension of a 9 year old. Your writing will reach most users but it also becomes easier to scan read for everyone. Try to use short, higher frequency words which are much easier to read.
  17. Do not assume that your audience will understand the technical language you use. It’s ok if you do need to include technical terms, but explain it the first time you use it, give the reader context. You can also make sure the surrounding language is in plain English.
  18. Here’s the point – you should think about what you want to say, what you want the person to understand, and just say that. Vague words and jargon introduce an element of doubt for the reader that isn’t fair on them. It helps to picture your audience and write as if you were talking directly to them, with the authority of someone who can help and inform
  19. Ok, so lets look at a few rules that we can follow that will make your content easier to understand
  20. When people scan they look at headings first, this is where they decide if they are in the right place or not
  21. Put the point, or the action you need someone to take at the beginning - it makes it easier to scan and understand
  22. Blocks of text are hard to digest.
  23. Use your sub headings to indicate what is in the paragraph that follows. It makes it easier to scan.
  24. Content designers love lists.
  25. Don’t use “click here” or “more information” tell the person what they’ll find if they click on the link.
  26. They can be distracting and cause readability challenges.
  27. Once you’ve done that…
  28. Again, the point is that you need someone else to interact with your content to see what you missed when your brain leapt to the point you were trying to make.
  29. Another way to check you are heading in the right direction is to follow Gerry McGoverns Six Cs
  30. Another way to check you are heading in the right direction is to follow Gerry McGoverns Six Cs
  31. Another way to check you are heading in the right direction is to follow Gerry McGoverns Six Cs
  32. Another way to check you are heading in the right direction is to follow Gerry McGoverns Six Cs
  33. Another way to check you are heading in the right direction is to follow Gerry McGoverns Six Cs
  34. Another way to check you are heading in the right direction is to follow Gerry McGoverns Six Cs
  35. Writing is hard. Making things appear simple is really hard. but we learn as we write, so it makes sense that we look at what we’ve written, with this new knowledge we gain from creating and think that it’s not good enough. It’s called the creative curse and there’s been lots written about it but it’s also a really good and positive thing because it shows that you are reaching to do better and you are learning as you go – so you are, as we all are, on the path to get better. Thanks for your time.