Similarly, within the push for greater digital accessibility and improvements in assistive technology, 2023 has ushered in immense successes and unfortunate failures among the industry's leading forces and pioneers — a clash of creativity and profit alongside a wider cultural conversation on the need for increased support and visibility for the disability community.
GIPHY adds alt text.
In 2023, popular GIF platform GIPHY partnered with digital accessibility provider Scribely to provide alt text captions for its most popular content, making the video-and-meme-based language of the internet more accessible to users who are blind.
Announced in late December 2022, the alt text additions were intentionally human-written, circumnavigating problems many other sites have faced with auto-generated alt text, and improving the ability of screen readers to accurately describe visual media and read webpages or social feeds for users. Starting with 15 writers working on the first 1,000 GIFs, the team at Scribely began rolling out about 3,500 descriptions per week to chip away at "the ever-expanding GIF ocean," Scribely representatives shared in a summary of a presentation for the AccessU 2023 accessibility conference.
"GIFs are an important part of our daily lives, thanks to their unique ability to convey ideas, emotions, and humor in ways that static images often can't. These looping videos move us to moments of joy and happiness. But without alt text, the moment is lost and excludes millions," said Caroline Desrosiers, founder and CEO of Scribely. "That's why this project with GIPHY is so monumental and necessary."