Braille Monitor                         February 2021

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Imagining the Lenses of Image Descriptions

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” I know, we’ve all probably heard this cliché more than once, but let me put a spin on it. Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, have you ever stopped to think about the lens those words are filtered through? For example, an image description could be as minimal as “A dog sits in front of a body of water.” You get the gist of the picture, and that is technically enough information to know what’s going on. However, what if the person writing or verbalizing the description is a dog lover? He/she/they could inject a little more description about what he/she/they thinks is important. For example, “A beautiful black lab sits in front of a body of water. The dog wears a solemn look on its face and its soft, shiny ears are pricked up as if listening to a far-off sound.” Again, this technically provides enough information to know what’s going on, but the focus is obviously on the dog. The same could happen with the body of water or even with the frame the photo is in.

As we hear about the events happening around us on a daily basis, do we who are blind really think about the images that go along with those stories? While we certainly don’t need images to form opinions or gather information, are there nuances we don’t digest because it is perceived as strictly a visual thing?

We’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Feel free to email us your opinion at [email protected]. Some samples of photo captions you would like to read will be very helpful.

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