I Owe an Apology to Anyone Using Voice Over

 

I Owe an Apology to Anyone Using Voice Over

Maybe you do as well? Accessibility is important

TECHNOLOGY

Showing Safari’s “Show Text” option for pictures in webpages. This is displayed when long pressing a photo that contains text.
Safari can show text in photos, Voice Over should read it, but it doesn’t

Yesterday I posted an article about Google Bard and made a bad accessibility mistake. I posted screenshots of Bard and ChatGPT rather than pasting in the content. That was sloppy.

I want to thank for calling me on my error at “Your ChatGPT Screenshots Suck”. I won’t make that mistake again, but it also reminded me to be more aware of Alt Text.

Alt Text is important

If the text had been short, I could have used the Alt Text option to add what a sighted person can see. Unfortunately, Safari and probably the Web Accessibility Standards only allow a limited amount of explanation in Alt Text.

I didn’t think of it anyway, so that wouldn’t have helped.

Voice Over should recognize text in photos

As shown in the screenshot above, Safari does have a “Show Text” ability. Coincidentally, I only noticed this yesterday. I long pressed on a photo in one of my Medium articles and up popped an option to to Show Text.

That’s pretty cool, although the long press is a little funky and erratic. Knowing that you CAN do it helps. However, this doesn’t help someone using Voice Over. Voice Over should have that ability. I said so at https://apple.com/feedback.

If you see something, say something. I always tell Apple when I think something could be done better.

My excuses

I have to admit to having been sloppy about using Alt Text. That’s partly sheer laziness and partly that often the photos that I use only augment what I say in the body of my post and aren’t critical to understanding it.

That latter part is an excellent excuse, isn’t it?

No, it isn’t. Thinking about it in the shoes of someone who needs Alt Text, it’s rude and insensitive. I’m quite annoyed at my sloth.

Fixing my errors

So, I’ve had a long heart to heart talk with myself about all this. I also think Medium needs a talking to: Alt Text should be required before any post is allowed to be published. That might be a bit annoying for authors, but think of how annoying the lack of it is to those who need it?

Well, maybe that’s a bad idea. Lazy jerks will just type “abcdefg” in Alt Text. But maybe Medium should at least remind them they left something important out?

Going Forward

I can’t go back and correct every single one of my past posts instantly, but I am going to at least correct yesterday’s travesty and be more careful in the future. For this current post, I tagged the picture with this:

Showing Safari’s “Show Text” option for pictures in webpages. This is displayed when long pressing a photo that contains text.

Perhaps some photos could just say, “Decorative picture of flower; not necessary for understanding this post”, which would at least not leave the Voice Over user wondering if they missed something important.

On the other hand, AI has come a long way in the ability to recognize photos. I think browsers should be able to offer that context as well and in the future perhaps even know whether the photo is important to the text it accompanies. That’s someday, though. Right now I need to improve.

Probably many of us need to improve, right? Et tu?

So, lesson learned, head hung, self chastised, I will move forward with a firm resolve to do better.

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