Museum Victoria crowd-sources text alternatives

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Thursday, 24 January 2013 16:18pm

Museum Victoria has come up with an innovative way of making their online collection available to people who are blind. The museum has launched 'Describe Me', a website that allows volunteers to write text alternatives for images posted on Museum Victoria's website.

A text alternative, or alt-text, is a line of text hidden within a website which conveys the meaning of an image. A person using assistive technology, such as a screen reader or braille device, can have the technology read out this description. Providing alt-text is essential for those wanting to make their websites accessible.

As the largest public museum organisation in Australia, Museum Victoria provides public access to scientific and cultural collections. Collections Online on the Museum Victoria website is an archive of artefacts from Australia’s indigenous and migrant history.

To get involved, volunteers can go to the Describe Me website where a randomly selected picture is presented to be described. In writing the text alternative for the images, volunteers are encouraged to describe the selected image so that the meaning or purpose is conveyed through text. A summary of the item is also provided with the selected image to help volunteers write the text alternative.

Currently, 1522 of 35058 images on the Describe Me website have been described by volunteers. The Museum is hoping more people lend their time to help make Australia’s history accessible to everyone online.

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