GIPHY + Scribely Join Forces to Make GIFs Accessible
Author: Melanie Mudge
Scribely is excited to announce a groundbreaking project with GIPHY to add alt text to 11,500 GIFs.
GIFs have become an important part of our culture, thanks to their ability to convey emotions and humor in ways that static images often can’t. From social media and text messaging to work messaging apps, GIFs can be used almost anywhere on the internet and have become an important part of how we communicate.
As a highly visual medium, however, they are not accessible to millions of folks with visual impairments unless they’re accompanied by alt text (a written description of the visual elements of an image or looping video that can be read aloud by assistive technology). Unfortunately, the vast majority of GIFs that exist today do not have alt text embedded into them, nor do most folks take the time to write their own when posting them.
Thus the joy, happiness, and giggles usually associated with sending and receiving GIFs turn to frustration and feelings of being left out for visually impaired folks.
That’s why Scribely’s project with GIPHY is so monumental and necessary.
The project required months of effort and even some re-training, as describing looping videos can be significantly more complex than describing static images. In fact, we told our writers at the beginning of the project to “leave the safe, clinical approach at the door,” and be prepared to break the rules a bit.
Throughout the project, we analyzed context, purpose, and meaning to ensure that each description accurately reflected the action and humor. Since the purpose of alt text is to provide an alternate way of experiencing visual content, this often meant leaving out the usual details like appearance and location in favor of more thoroughly focusing on the punchline and action.
Of course, 11,500 GIFs is a drop in the giant and ever-expanding ocean of GIFs, but this is an exciting moment for digital accessibility. Everyone should be able to experience that moment where you find the perfect GIF to share with others. Through collaborations like GIPHY and Scribely, we can work together to make sure that moment is about sharing the joy and happiness of GIFs with everyone.