RNIB Partners with the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery to Highlight Importance of Alt Text

Silent and still: a rusting, cast-iron, life-sized body stands staring out to sea. As the tide comes in, it is submerged under waves; as the water retreats, it reappears. A cultural clock, corroding yet constant, patiently waiting for the next tide, on and on, over and over for eternity, while our lives and loves ebb and flow around it.

Leading sight loss charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has partnered with the Turner Contemporary art gallery in Margate and integrated creative agency MullenLowe UK to raise awareness of the importance of using Alternative Text (Alt Text) on visual content to ensure it’s accessible to blind and partially sighted people.

To mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day, taking place on Thursday 16th May, RNIB, the Turner Contemporary art gallery and MullenLowe UK have created an image description of the iconic Sir Antony Gormley statue, ‘Another Time', that stands on Margate beach, opposite the Turner Contemporary gallery.

The much-photographed statue is only visible when the tide is out and disappears under the sea when the tide comes in, further highlighting what’s hidden from blind and partially sighted people if Alt Text isn’t included when posting any visual content online.

One of the best ways people can make visual content accessible to everyone is by including Alt Text. Alt Text is a written description of the image, read aloud by a screen reader to help people with sight loss understand the content of the image and to engage with it.  Alt Text is relied on by the two million people in the UK with sight loss. But Alt Text descriptions are often either really poor quality or non-existent.

To raise awareness of the issue, signage has been added to the railings on Margate seafront describing the Sir Antony Gormley statue, coupled with an accessible QR code, which when scanned, describes the statue and provides further information on Alt Text.

The initiative comes in response to recent RNIB research[i], which found that only three in ten people are aware of Alt Text. Out of those who do know about it, nearly half of those (47 per cent) said they’d use it if they saw others do the same. RNIB’s aim is for this collaboration to raise awareness of alt text, and encourage more people to use it when sharing visual content.

Martin Wingfield, RNIB’s director of brand, said,

“Alt Text makes a huge difference to blind and partially sighted people in their everyday lives. it breaks down barriers and makes content accessible for everyone to enjoy. Inclusive content is just good content and ensures you aren’t excluding anyone. Our motto is always to think of accessibility as a love note – it tells people we want you here as well.

The aim of our campaign for this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day is to highlight how the public, brands and organisations can use Alt Text to make their content as accessible as possible. It’s fantastic to have had this opportunity to work with Turner Contemporary and MullenLowe UK on this year’s campaign, and we’re incredibly grateful for their support in raising awareness of the importance of Alt Text and accessibility in general.”

Clarrie Wallis, director at Turner Contemporary, said, “At Turner Contemporary, we are committed to making art and our gallery inclusive and accessible to all and are delighted to be supporting RNIB to highlight this important initiative.”

To find out more about Alt Text and how to make content posts accessible, visit here. If you’d like to find out more about how to improve accessibility, visit here for more information.

Originally published in LBB online.

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