With the support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the U-M Library and Press have released a new collection of resources that will support the efforts of authors, editors, publishers, and arts organizations seeking to make their publications and collections more accessible to people with visual impairments and other print disabilities.
This collection of resources, Describing Visual Resources Toolkit, includes contributions from experts in publishing, art history, and visual and disability studies seeking to address the challenges of incorporating visuals descriptions into scholarly publications.
Descriptions of visual resources are a crucial component of accessible digital publications, says Stephanie Rosen, accessibility specialist at the U-M Library. “They afford access to the important information contained in images for the many people with disabilities that affect reading, and for all the technologies that interact with publications when indexing, searching, or converting text to speech.”
Such information is especially important in academic publications, where descriptions must be scholarly as well as accessible, and in line with existing standards. The toolkit directs the creators of those publications to existing resources, and provides guidance specific to arts and humanities publishing.
One such creator is Mara Mills, associate professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, who says, “I can think of no other accessible publishing kit addressed equally to authors, editors, and publishers. I already find myself referring to it in my own writing and editorial work, and I plan to share it with the undergraduates in my next disability studies seminar.”
Karen Levine, editor in chief at Getty Publications, describes the toolkit as “an invaluable resource for authors, publishers, and arts organizations who are committed to making digital publications accessible to all interested readers. At last those of us publishing in the arts and humanities can consult information and guidelines that make sense for our fields.”
And Stephen Kuusisto, professor at Syracuse University and author of Planet of the Blind, calls this work “a remarkable achievement. It offers a new and vital resource for academic publishers who are looking for innovative ways to support the blind and visually impaired in contemporary publishing.”