Image Descriptions… Again (Reblogging Myself)
So a lovely who will remain nameless dropped an ask with nice words about my image descriptions (thank you!) and someone else asked on Twitter why I’m so hard on myself about them. So I wanted to explain a little.
My mom isn’t on Tumblr, but she’s on Facebook. At home, she uses an iPad rather than a computer, for various reasons.
My mom has a complex and kind of unusual sort of vision impairment as a result of the (benign) brain tumor she survived 20 years ago. As she’s getting older, the usual decline of age is also setting in, worsening things.
A lot of times we’ll be sitting around and she’ll be looking at Facebook on her iPad and I’ll be doing whatever nearby, and she’ll say “Oh, Cousin LaFred* posted pictures of her kids on their vacation…” then she’ll get really quiet. And I’ll see her blowing the pictures up, which allows a clearer look at details, but at the expense of the full image sometimes, and squinting at the screen. Then she’ll say “I don’t know what they’re doing here.”
So I’ll tell her to hand me the iPad, and I’ll look at the picture, and then I’ll describe it to her, so she can understand what’s going on. Once I describe what’s happening, she can look at the picture and with that information she’s able to visually and mentally contextualize the details and enjoy the photo.
When I write a description here, I (try) to describe the photo the same way I would to my mother, find what’s important about the image, in its context, find what wouldn’t necessarily be seen on a quick glance or by someone with a visual impairment (not full vision loss) but that would enhance the appreciation or comprehension of the scene. And I do that because people like my mom, people with visual processing problems, people with vision loss, people who just don’t or can’t see details or understand them all matter, and if I can make using the content I share a better experience for them, then I need to try to do that, as much as I can.
So when I say it makes me feel badly when I don’t have the oomph to write a description, or good one, it’s because I know what difference a description can make. (And I know that when my mom needs one and I’m not around at the time, her experience is lessened.) I know that it matters.
And when I say don’t take descriptions off of photos you’re reblogging from me, I mean that for a reason. They’re content, as much as the photos themselves, or any commentary on the photo. If you don’t like the description, change it. If you don’t care about people who need descriptions, go reblog the photo from someone further up the chain from me who didn’t add a description. But don’t disrespect my content, my effort and the people who need those descriptions by just jettisoning them because you don’t see the point. And especially don’t do that while leaving my other commentary intact. That’s editing me, and it’s not acceptable.
This stuff matters.