4.8 Z. Image description guidelines for textbooks

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4.8  Z.  Image description guidelines for textbooks

Go back to:  4. Proofreading a Book

              1)  General Tips
              2)  Data Representation
                   A.  BAR CHARTS, BAR GRAPHS  (horizontal or vertical)
                   B.  CARTOONS / COMIC STRIPS
                   C.  SCREEN SHOTS  (computer screen images)
                   D.  DIAGRAMS / FLOW CHARTS
                   E.  LINE GRAPHS
                   F.  MAPS
                   G.  PHOTOS / PORTRAITS / DRAWINGS
                   H.  PIE GRAPHS
                   I.  TABLES

              3)  How to Start
                   Formatting Your Descriptions

Technical Content (Data)

These guidelines are specific for technical content, such as that in textbooks.

1)  General Tips

      »  Brevity                 Don’t make the description unnecessarily long.
      »  Data                     The description should focus on data and not the appearance.
      »  Clarity                  If the reader needs to read a description several times because it is poorly written
                                      or is presented in a confusing manner, it is not accessible.
      »  Organization        Lists and tables provide speedy and independent access to data that is unavailable
                                      through traditional linear, narrative descriptions.

      -  You’re not describing what the image "looks like"!
      -  You’re providing the information presented in the image in the most efficient and accessible way.

2)  Data Representation

      First determine if the data in the graph is supplementary to the text or if the author is displaying some
      sort of trend.  If the data is deemed important, make sure to list and describe the key points.  If the
      author’s intent is to display a trend, describe the trend instead of the data.

      Below are a list of different ways in which data can be represented and things to remember when
      describing each figure.

      A.  BAR CHARTS, BAR GRAPHS  (horizontal or vertical)

           Title:           Figure  ____  is a bar graph titled  _____________________________ .

           Caption:     The caption is  _____________________________________________ .

           Source:      Source is  ________________________________________________ .

           Axes:         The horizontal axis is  ________  and runs from  ____  to  ____  in increments of  _____ .
                            The vertical axis is  __________  and runs from  ____  to  ____  in increments of  _____ .

           Bars:          Read values for bars.  Reading from left to right, the bars are  _____________________ .

           Explain the graph’s main purpose.

           Example 1

           Below is the original bar chart:

4.8 Z. 1_Screenshot of a vertical Bar Chart.

           Next is an accessible description of the bar chart:

4.8 Z. 2_Screenshot of an accessible description of the above vertical Bar Chart.

           For a book containing cartoons or comic strips, describe the drawing and include the caption if it
           is part of the image.  Don’t describe the strip if it is merely a drawing which does not contribute to
           the text.

      C.  "SCREEN SHOTS"  (computer screen images)
           Screen shots do not need to be read in detail unless the book is a computer science text.
           For computer screen images, it's sufficient to give a brief summary.

           -  Be sure to include the caption (if it is part of the image) and the source information.
           -  Only describe the diagram if it is not described in the surrounding text.
           -  Keep in mind the intent and age level (or grade level) of the text.

           Example 2

           In this description:
           -  The major points are presented as lists of bulleted items.
           -  The sentences are short.  Just enough details are given without being verbose.

4.8 Z. 3_Screenshot of a diagram of the Inhalation and Exhalation processes of breathing.

           Diagram of the breathing process.

               *  A muscle at the base the lungs, called the diaphragm, moves downward.
               *  Inside the lungs, pressure decreases and air rushes in.
               *  Ribs move upward and outward.
               *  Volume of the chest cavity increases.
               *  Air flows into the nose and mouth.

               *  Diaphragm moves upward.
               *  Inside the lungs, pressure increases and air moves out.
               *  Ribs move downward and inward.
               *  Volume of chest cavity decreases.
               *  Air flows out through the nose and mouth.

           Give the title, caption (if part of the image), source and axes information as shown in the Bar
           Chart section above.  Be sure to give an adequate description that summarizes the author’s

      F.  MAPS
           Most maps will require only a title, the type of map, the compass rose, the key or legend, and a
           brief description of the geography.  Describe what is shown and what borders the area specified
           in the map.  Sometimes, it is enough to say "There is more detail than is described here.  Return
           to text."

           Include the illustration title, caption (if part of the image), and source.  If more information is
           needed, then describe the illustration as a whole first and then the details in sequence.  Usually
           there is no need to describe details such as type of clothing, hair style, etc. in portraits.

      H.  PIE GRAPHS
           *  Be sure to include the graph title, caption and source.
           *  Describe the data in the pie chart in a logical order.  I.e., "reading in descending order, the
               wedges are ____________".  Include the value of each wedge (number or %) if available.

      I.  TABLES
           No description is necessary for tables that are part of the text.  If the table is an image, the
           description should be "Table needs to be transcribed".

3)  How to Start

      1.  Ask yourself, "How does this figure supplement the text?  Stress these points and avoid
           unimportant details.
      2.  Consider the grade level of the text in choosing the words you will use in the description.
      3.  Describe the illustration as a whole first and then go into details.
      4.  Describe the details in a logical sequence based on the information they convey and not
           their appearance.

      Formatting Your Descriptions

      Use MS Word or a similar word processor application to write your descriptions.  At the top of the file
      include the title of the book and chapter you are describing.  Create separate Word documents for
      each chapter.

      Label each description with as much information as possible:
          »  figure number
          »  page number with images numbered
          »  section number
          »  chapter number and section heading

      Describe images in the order they appear on the page, top to bottom.  Do not skip images.  If an
      image is repeated, repeat the description if brief or write "same as previous image".  If for any reason
      an image is not described, include an entry for the image with the description content being
      [image not described].  Leave blank lines between descriptions and multiple blank lines between sections
      and/or chapters.

      If the image is adequately described in the surrounding text, the image description should be
      "image described in text".  Do not skip images.

      If the image has a caption (that is not part of the image) that describes the image, the image description
      should be "image dscribed in caption".

      If you have questions or comments for the transcriber (you aren't sure if the description is accurate
      or it includes symbols that may not render correctly, etc.), either make the text of the comment or
      question a different color, or preface it with "To Suzy:".


      Figure number

      Figure 1.3:  Graph showing the supply and demand curves of guns and butter.


      Page number with images numbered

      Page 123, figure 1:  A white cat with blue eyes.
      Page 123, figure 2:  A black cat with yellow eyes.


      Chapter number with section number, and images numbered

      Chapter 6
      Section 6.4

      Figure 1:  A cupcake with a single candle on top.
      Figure 2:  A half-eaten cupcake.


      Chapter number with section title, and images numbered

      Chapter 3
      Section:  Types of Triathlon Equipment

      Figure 1:  A bicycle helmet, sunglasses and a waterbottle.
      Figure 2:  A wetsuit and swimming goggles.
      Figure 3:  Running shoes and a sunvisor.


      Image is described in the text of the book

4.8 Z. 4_Screenshot of three albino rabbits in a cage.

      Figure 1-4  Albino rabbits
      As you can see in the picture above, albino rabbits have white fur and red eyes.

      The image description should be:

      Figure 1-4:  Image described in text.

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