Get in on the act of describing art for everyone

Tuesday, 23 December 2014 12:44pm

Museum Victoria is seeking public contributions to help add value to its online collection of artifacts. In adding alternative texts to over 45,000 images via crowd-sourcing, the organisation is also inching towards meeting website compliance with WCAG 2.0 AA.

Describe Me logo

Describe Me is Museum Victoria’s (MV) website asking people to pick an image from its collection and describe it, allowing people who have low vision or are blind to have access to a subset of humanities-themed items from the Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and Melbourne Planetarium, Immigration Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building.

Faced with an impossible task for the museums’ curators, it was clear to MV that crowd-sourcing was the best way to gain accessibility in the quickest manner. The key in doing this was ensuring that the crowd-sourced content was as simple and painless as possible to use, which is where the website design and content was integral to the success of the project.

MV’s Online Developer Michael Mason said, “In order to try and make sure we have the best descriptions it was important to make the instructions as clear as possible and we did that through design, clear steps on what to do and of course handy examples that describe some of the harder images in our collection. We wanted to make sure people didn’t find contributing too taxing and to encourage repeat visits.”

Since the site began in January 2013 it has clocked between 50 and 100 descriptions a week. Each description goes through an approval process before being published and if not approved, the image returns to the pool of images yet to be described. The process is a simple and easy one for both describers and moderators.

Get in on the act (it’s kind of addictive) and visit Describe Me to have a go yourself.


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