Scribely: Making Web-Based Images & Videos Accessible So All Might Enjoy

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Editor’s Note

We could hardly wait to introduce you to Caroline Desrosiers the Founder of Scribely. Recently we sat down with Caroline to interview her in a Q&A format to learn more about the accessibility services Scribely provides. We were not disappointed and we think you’ll agree. Not only did she do a fabulous interview but she shares some excellent examples to help everyone who creates web-based content to become more inclusive. Enjoy!

I’m passionate about accessibility because I’m passionate about inclusion. I feel like we all need to think about ways that we can embrace our diversity, because that’s really what makes us human, after all.

~ Caroline Desrosiers

Beyond Sight Magazine Cover

Beyond Sight Magazine Cover features a  headshot of a smiling Caroline, a white female in her 30s who has wavy copper-colored hair and bangs. She is wearing a dark top. Text reads: Cane Enabled | Celebrating broad perspectives of those in the field of blindness/low vision | Caroline Desrosiers | Scribely: Making Web-Based Images & Videos Accessible So All Might Enjoy
Beyond Sight Magazine Cover

YouTube Video Interview

Caroline’s Q&A Transcription

Caroline Desrosiers

Hi, everyone. I’m Caroline Desrosiers from Scribely and thank you so much to Bold Blind Beauty for having me on. I’m going to be answering a few questions about accessibility and telling you a little bit more about what we do at Scribely.

Bold Blind Beauty

Why are you so passionate about accessibility?

Caroline 

So I’m passionate about accessibility because I’m passionate about inclusion. I feel like we all need to think about ways that we can embrace our diversity, because that’s really what makes us human, after all. A great way we can do that is by creating spaces that everyone feels like they belong to. And the web is just another one of those spaces. It’s a virtual one, but it’s really one of the most important resources we have at our fingertips. So with everything going virtual right now, I feel like the web is just, it’s providing access to our world. And we need to think about how to make it accessible.

So I knew that I wanted to dedicate my work to this effort. What Scribely does is, we are an accessibility services company that specializes in describing images and videos on the web, so that they can be accessible to people with disabilities, and in particular, people who are blind or have low vision. And I wanted to solve this problem because there is just a tremendous amount of visual information on the web, it’s really surrounding us. Think about all the ways that you are engaging with images on a daily basis:

  • it could be scrolling your Instagram feed, 
  • or shopping online, and looking through product images 
  • or reading an article,
  • looking at your favorite artists’ new content. 

We’re really surrounded by visuals, and it felt like this, it was just this massive problem. And we needed a vendor that understands how to describe these images to people with visual disabilities. So I think that providing alt-text is just like a really simple and great way to improve your diversity and inclusion, but also create these spaces where people feel like they can belong. 

Bold Blind Beauty

What is alt-text? And why is it important? How does it help increase SEO on a site? 

Caroline 

So first to define alt-text. Alt-text is essentially a visual description of an image on a screen, and we’re placing these alt-text descriptions within the HTML code. So they’re kind of working behind the scenes. But they’re extremely important because people that are using screen reader technology or text to speech are essentially tabbing or scrolling through your website or social media and having your text and your visual content read out loud to them by that screen reader.

So when the screen reader comes across an image, if an alt-text description is present, it will describe that image to the user. If it’s not, the screen reader will just skip over the image as if it doesn’t exist. So alt-text, very important for accessibility purposes. It’s also great for your SEO.

And what we’re seeing, just as a search trend that’s happening right now is that really a lot of users out there are using images to efficiently search the web for exactly what they’re looking for. So if you’re including alt-text, you’re also telling Google how to how to direct users to your site and to your image through your images. So I’ll text great for customers, great for business, and it’s just a win-win all around for diversity and inclusion.

Bold Blind Beauty

Can you tell us about some of the challenges people with disabilities face when images and videos aren’t accessible? 

Caroline  

Yeah, so a lot of challenges around inaccessible images and videos. As I’ve already mentioned, we have images and videos on social media and on websites. But they also exist in other places. For instance, on streaming services, like Netflix, Disney Plus HBO Max, we’re watching video content all the time. And it’s being churned out at such a rapid rate, and there is a lot of video content out there that does not include audio description. 

And what that is, is basically voiceover that tells you about the visual details that are happening within the video on screen. So that people who are blind or have low vision can also watch those videos. And we need to make sure that we’re making these really popular TV shows and movies that we’re also excited about need to make sure that those are accessible. 

Also on just you being informed about the world news agencies, using images and videos, to show people what’s happening in the world. This has been really become really popular just using images and videos as visual aids and we need to see more news agencies that are properly describing the visual details. So that people who have disabilities can also engage with that content and understand what’s happening with the world around them. 

I think just in general, taking accessibility back to the beginning of the content creation process, and thinking about how we can work that in would be a really great way that we can kind of set a new trend to make sure all new content that’s produced is accessible. 

Bold Blind Beauty

What are some steps companies can take to create accessible content for the disability community? 

Yeah, so in terms of getting started, I would say, just don’t be afraid to take, you know, the approach of just chipping away at it slowly. When it comes to image and video content, it’s really important to do the work properly. So I would suggest just starting with your top-selling products, or your top-selling titles, or you know, if you’re an individual make your social media feeds for our posts from now on accessible. And there’s a way to just chip away at this over time.

I’d also say that there are a lot of accessibility services companies out there that are here to support you. If you’re looking for an audit, there are companies out there that do that, if you’re looking to get the work done. We’ve got companies like Scribely, that are ready to help you actually write the descriptions to make those images and videos accessible. So I say just don’t be afraid of this, don’t get intimidated. I mean, we deal with this all the time. 

We’re writers at Scribely. So you got to get over that writer’s block and just start doing it, just dive in. And, you know, I think that you’ll find along the way that it becomes a more natural part of your process. And you can actually be really proud of the work that you’ve done for your followers and your customers. 

Bold Blind Beauty

How can people get in touch with Scribely?

Thanks, Bold Blind Beauty for these great questions. And thank you for watching and listening today. And if you’d like to get in touch with us, send us an email at hello@scribelytribe.com or you can follow us on all the social media platforms @ScribelyTribe, or if it’s LinkedIn, it’s just Scribely. But we’d love to hear from you and start a conversation about how we can make this a great year for accessibility.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Scribely Samples

Education

Sternberg’s Triangle Theory of Love. Triangle corners are labeled Intimacy (Liking), Commitment (Empty Love) and Passion (Infatuation). Triangle sides indicate the type of love. The side between Intimacy and Commitment is Companionate Love. Commitment and Passion is Fatuous Love, and Passion and Intimacy is Romantic Love. The center of the diagram reads Consummate Love, Passion plus Intimacy plus Commitment.
Sternberg’s Triangle Theory of Love

Alt Text: Sternberg’s Triangle Theory of Love. Triangle corners are labeled Intimacy (Liking), Commitment (Empty Love) and Passion (Infatuation). Triangle sides indicate the type of love. The side between Intimacy and Commitment is Companionate Love. Commitment and Passion is Fatuous Love, and Passion and Intimacy is Romantic Love. The center of the diagram reads Consummate Love, Passion plus Intimacy plus Commitment.

Alt Text: A bar chart shows disability statistics in the U.S. 26% or 1 in 4 adults in the United States have some type of disability. Below that, a bar chart with each bar corresponding to a disability type. 
Bar Chart

Alt Text: A bar chart shows disability statistics in the U.S. 26% or 1 in 4 adults in the United States have some type of disability. Below that, a bar chart with each bar corresponding to a disability type. 

Data is presented as follows: 13.7%, Mobility. 10.8%, Cognition. 6.8%, Independent Living. 5.9%, Hearing. 4.6%, Vision. 3.7%, Self Care.

eCommerce

A closeup of Le Creuset’s Signature 5.5 Quart Dutch Oven in Cerise Red beside a colorful bowl of homemade chicken vegetable soup with garnishes of avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges.
Le Creuset’s Signature 5.5 Quart Dutch Oven

Alt Text: A closeup of Le Creuset’s Signature 5.5 Quart Dutch Oven in Cerise Red beside a colorful bowl of homemade chicken vegetable soup with garnishes of avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges.

Coffee in the snowy outdoors. An aerial view of Stanley’s classic 16-ounce thermos with a light brown leather coozie as it is poured into 3 camp mugs resting in the snow. Three pairs of hiking boots frame the photo.
Coffee in the snow

Alt Text: Coffee in the snowy outdoors. An aerial view of Stanley’s classic 16-ounce thermos with a light brown leather coozie as it is poured into 3 camp mugs resting in the snow. Three pairs of hiking boots frame the photo.

Arts

A closeup headshot of model, Winnie Harlow. Her brightly colored silk scarf headdress sweeps up to conceal half of her face. She has a medium dark skin tone and gazes out at camera with a serene expression. An hourglass-shaped patch of vitiligo extends from her chin to the bottom of her nose, outlining her mouth. A single vitiligo patch in the shape of a cloud is visible above her eye.
Headshot of model, Winnie Harlow

Alt Text: A closeup headshot of model, Winnie Harlow. Her brightly colored silk scarf headdress sweeps up to conceal half of her face. She has a medium dark skin tone and gazes out at camera with a serene expression. An hourglass-shaped patch of vitiligo extends from her chin to the bottom of her nose, outlining her mouth. A single vitiligo patch in the shape of a cloud is visible above her eye.

A sunny, long shot view of a San Francisco cable car as it moves down the tracks of a steep street. The green and red cable car with cables overhead is labeled with the number 13 and has 3 destinations: Powell and Market, Hyde and Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf. The street is lined with multi-story homes with bay windows. The San Francisco Bay and Bay Bridge are in the distance
A San Francisco cable car

Alt Text: A sunny, long shot view of a San Francisco cable car as it moves down the tracks of a steep street. The green and red cable car with cables overhead is labeled with the number 13 and has 3 destinations: Powell and Market, Hyde and Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf. The street is lined with multi-story homes with bay windows. The San Francisco Bay and Bay Bridge are in the distance

Video

Link to download sign language video from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/video/hands-love-hand-sign-4662087/

A live sign language demonstration for the phrase, love, and respect one another. Love is both arms crossed at the wrist over the chest. Respect is the index and middle fingers crossed with 1 vertical, circular revolution towards the body. Each other is a thumbs up on both hands with 1 horizontal, circular revolution in a counterclockwise direction.

Video Description: A live sign language demonstration for the phrase, love, and respect one another. Love is both arms crossed at the wrist over the chest. Respect is the index and middle fingers crossed with 1 vertical, circular revolution towards the body. Each other is a thumbs up on both hands with 1 horizontal, circular revolution in a counterclockwise direction.

Link to download sign language video from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/video/couple-eating-their-breakfast-6003164/

A couple enjoys breakfast while camping outdoors by the sea. They are dressed in fleece sweaters, denim jeans, and boots and are seated close to a small campfire. The scene is cozy and peaceful as they smile, eat and exchange light conversation.

Video Description: A couple enjoys breakfast while camping outdoors by the sea. They are dressed in fleece sweaters, denim jeans and boots and are seated close to a small campfire. The scene is cozy and peaceful as they smile, eat and exchange light conversation.

Memes

A closeup of a wide-eyed Grumpy Cat. Grumpy Cat is a mixed-breed that is mostly white with dark brown fur patches around her light blue eyes. She has a naturally furrowed brow and a frown making her appear grumpy. Grumpy cat is laying in someone’s lap, belly up, with her head cradled in the person’s hand. Tag line: If you’re happy and you know it. I don’t care.
Grumpy Cat

Alt Text: A closeup of a wide-eyed Grumpy Cat. Grumpy Cat is a mixed-breed that is mostly white with dark brown fur patches around her light blue eyes. She has a naturally furrowed brow and a frown making her appear grumpy. Grumpy cat is laying in someone’s lap, belly up, with her head cradled in the person’s hand. Tag line: If you’re happy and you know it. I don’t care.

 Keanu as a moppy-haired surfer bro turns towards you to say “whoa” Party on dudes! It’s a closeup screenshot of young Keanu Reeves’s face in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He has long, disheveled hair and a slack jawed expression. It doesn’t look like there’s too much going on upstairs, and he’s kind of amazed at whatever he’s looking at. Tag Line: What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing himself in Spanish?
Keanu Reeves

Alt Text: Keanu as a moppy-haired surfer bro turns towards you to say “whoa” Party on dudes! It’s a closeup screenshot of young Keanu Reeves’s face in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He has long, disheveled hair and a slack jawed expression. It doesn’t look like there’s too much going on upstairs, and he’s kind of amazed at whatever he’s looking at. Tag Line: What if soy milk is just regular milk introducing himself in Spanish?

Caroline Desrosiers Bio

Caroline is the Founder & CEO of Scribely, a California-based accessibility solutions company that writes premium alternative text (alt-text) for digital images and audio description for videos. Scribely’s team of expert writers helps businesses in education, eCommerce, and the arts transform visual experiences to create a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable world.  

Connecting With Scribely

Image Descriptions:

  • The header is a headshot of a smiling Caroline, a white female in her 30s who has wavy copper-colored hair and bangs. She is wearing a dark top.
  • Beyond Sight Magazine Cover has the same image as in the header. Text reads: Cane Enabled | Celebrating broad perspectives of those in the field of blindness/low vision | Caroline Desrosiers | Scribely: Making Web-Based Images & Videos Accessible So All Might Enjoy
  • YouTube Video Cover has the same photo as in the header and Beyond Sight Cover.

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