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Re: Alternate text for images having caption adjacent

for

From: Whitney Quesenbery
Date: May 30, 2014 2:12PM


Bevi,

Nicely said.

And, you do something else that I think standards should do better: start
from what we actually know about how things work, from the experts who do
it.




On Thu, May 29, 2014 at 6:43 PM, Chagnon | PubCom < <EMAIL REMOVED> >
wrote:

> Here's a monkey wrench I'm throwing into the discussion about Alt-text and
> captions.
>
> As a professional writer, editor, magazine managing editor (which means I
> say what goes where, what gets said, what's important/what isn't), graphic
> designer, magazine art director, and instructor for publishing, I am
> stating
> that captions most times don't say much about the photo they're next to.
> That's not their purpose in commercial periodicals and their companion
> websites.
>
> Example: National Geographic Magazine, one of the most successful
> publications of any genre in the World for 125 years. With such a legacy,
> you have to admit that they know what they're doing when it comes to
> communication.
>
> NatGeo Mag provided the first studies of how humans (sighted ones) respond
> to design and information. What has been proven many times over the past
> 100
> years is that a publication is "read" (please note the quote marks) in this
> order:
> 1) The graphics are viewed. Graphics include photos, artist illustrations,
> statistical graphs, maps, and logos.
> 2) The largest, boldest text with the most white space is read.
> 3) The captions next to the graphics are then read.
> 4) Any decorative text is read next, such as pull quotes, deck heads,
> kicker
> heads, sidebar headings.
> (Note that I still haven't listed the actual body text of the story yet.)
> 5) If after all these items are read and have done their "job" of hooking
> the reader, then -- and only then -- is the body text or story read.
>
> This pattern is designed into every magazine, newspaper, newsletter, and
> periodical, not just National Geographic. It's also been adapted for use in
> website design -- Graphics first that convey the bulk of the message, then
> the text.
>
> NatGeo has perfected this to the ultimate degree. Their captions tell the
> story, too, not just the body text story. Here's an example from the
> magazine's article, Brunelleshi's Dome, which describes the building of the
> dome above the main cathedral of Florence, Italy. It was an architectural
> feat at the time. I don't have a copy of the printed magazine with me, but
> a
> sample from the article's webpage follows NatGeo's format.
>
> The caption under the graphic states: "Florence began to build a new
> cathedral in 1296. Wars, politics, and plague slowed construction so work
> on
> the dome didn't commence for more than a century."
>
> And the caption's graphic is a close-up schematic of the cathedral's dome
> with a cut-away showing the structural support beams.
>
> Two pieces of information are conveyed in the NatGeo combo of graphic and
> caption: the graphic itself is carrying an awful lot of information about
> the topic that often isn't mentioned in the caption or the body text. It's
> telling one part of the story. The caption is telling another part of the
> story and might not refer to the graphic in any way whatsoever.
>
> In a previous example of Jared's supposed photo, a well-trained publishing
> of writer/editor/designer would create this for his photo and caption
> combination:
>
> Photo: Jared at a podium presenting at a conference. PowerPoint is up on
> the
> presentation screen behind him. A drink with a little pink paper umbrella
> is
> in the glass.
>
> Caption: Jared is the Associate Director of Whosies, a nonprofit
> organization for the protection of whosies in cyberspace. His notable work
> on whosies, their propagation, and their protection is considered the
> definitive reference in the whosie industry worldwide. In 2016, Jared was
> awarded the Nobel Prize in Whosie Whatziz, recognizing his outstanding
> contribution to the world of whosies. Jared presented his recent thesis,
> "Whosies on the Edge," at the World Symposium on Whosie Whose in Tahiti
> this
> past December.
>
> Given that the majority of published information is of this nature (the
> other types are SMT (science-medical-technical) and advertising), how can
> we
> create WCAG standards that allow these types of periodicals and websites to
> publish as they need to like above?
>
> Right now, publishers think that the current WCAG standards and guidelines
> are telling them not to communication in this highly effective and
> profitable way. Consequently, my publishing clients are balking at making
> their publications accessible.
>
> How can we create guidelines and standards that allow for the flexibility
> needed by different types of published work? We need standards that work,
> not put people into a straightjacket.
>
> --Bevi Chagnon
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