IPTC Updates Metadata Standards to Help Blind People ‘See’ Photos Online

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The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) has released a new version of its Photo metadata standard which includes two new properties aimed at making photos more accessible to people with disabilities, such as the blind.

The IPTC says web accessibility is extremely important in today’s digital age, and as the number of images added online grows daily, the gap is widening for people who use assistive technology to access information, especially those who are blind.

The two new properties that will be added to the standard are Alt Text (Accessibility) and Extended Description (Accessibility), which will allow software vendors, publishers and website developers to make websites and e-publications more accessible to a greater number of people.

The organization says incorporating image descriptions into photo metadata can make it easier for software and systems to provide alt text with images, giving screen reader software the ability to help. readers with disabilities to view and listen to descriptions of images when read aloud. . The IPTC claims that without accessible descriptions, images are silent for the millions of people who rely on screen readers to fully access the web.

Image descriptions are essential for people with visual impairments using assistive technologies and a fundamental requirement of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which are the most used directives for global web accessibility.

Incorporating accessible image descriptions into the photo’s metadata will allow alt text and extended descriptions to travel anywhere the image is on the web or in books or other material provided as electronic publications. .

The IPTC says last year, in particular, demonstrated the need for this change, as many people with disabilities were at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 but struggled to access critical information by line, ranging from healthcare to education. to groceries and supplies. The organization maintains that inaccessible websites and apps have always been a hindrance, but during COVID, they became a threat to the health and safety of a vulnerable population.

The new accessibility properties announced by the IPTC will make it easier for platforms and software to comply with WCAG requirements and provide inclusive images for everyone.

The Specifying the IPTC Standard on Photo Metadata will be updated to this new version which includes the new requirements from November 4, 2021.


Header Image: A visually impaired person using a braille screen reader. photo by Sigmund to Unsplash, referenced by the IPTC.


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