Tagged for OEG Connect: Alt Text Selfies

What’s of interest? Alt Text Selfies

Tell me more!

Thank you for being here with our project, a celebration and collection of alt text selfies — self-portrait descriptions that are shared online.

“Alt text selfie” is an open term. Our understanding of what an alt text selfie might be is always shifting and changing. Selfies and self-descriptions are often visually focused, but, to us, an alt text selfie doesn’t need to center around visuals, or literally describe an image. As the selfies gathered on this website exemplify, alt text selfies can blend smell, taste, touch, sound, and more. At their core, alt text selfies are an access practice, tools for connecting across sensory experiences and distance.

For us, an alt text selfie is any written self-portrait. This project takes a well-known practice—the selfie—and approaches it through a disability lens. Selfies and self-descriptions are often visually focused, but to us, an alt text selfie doesn’t need to center visual presentation or a literal description of an image. Alt text selfies might focus on feelings, smells, tastes, sounds, emotions, textures, or some combination. Alt text selfies can be any length, but for this project, we focused on writing in the one-sentence to one-paragraph range.

Where is it?: https://alttextselfies.net/

This is one among many items I will regularly tag in Pinboard as oegconnect, and automatically post tagged as #OEGConnect to Mastodon. Do you know of something else we should share like this? Just reply below and we will check it out.

I found this fascinating, as both a creative prompt/activity but also considering the difference in alt text as purely description of what’s in an image, which is what you will get if you turn to AI for image descriptions versus something that understands the context or meaning of an image (see this interesting argument and illustrative example where AI comes up short).

This is not to say this is a recommended practice for writing alt text for images of ourself, but is a way to explore the meaning, range, potential for text to describe the visual. Don;t just take my word, explore some of the examples in the alttextselfies gallery. Like:

An open channel of thawed glacier water steams and slips in and out of ice-encased banks, taking my crystalized shape of a human with it – my hair, frozen tendrils of a braided river.

as compared to

Amelia’s dark brown hair is in two poofy pigtails and topped off with a thin white and gold headband. On her face is a floral printed pair of sunglasses and a big smile! She is wearing mostly black but her sweater has light blue roses on it and her purse is also teal. As she ignores the bench beside her, she casually leans against a vibrant sea-green wall. Behind her a large circular window outlined in white.

Who is game to write and share one here? I’ve got one, and can post, but I already blab too much here. I think maybe someone like @chrissinerantzi or @bdelosarcos or @mahabali or YOU might have an interesting way to create an text-only creative selfie.