A Comprehensive Guide for Visual Descriptions in Gatherings

At Calling Up Justice, inclusivity lies at the core of our values, and as part of our commitment to accessibility, we have implemented visual descriptions in all our gatherings. This practice ensures that visually impaired individuals and those joining through audio-only channels can fully engage and participate. In this guide, we will delve into the personal aspects of providing visual descriptions, while also offering performance notes to address potential self-consciousness and encourage effective descriptions that are informative and respectful.

Performance Notes for Visual Descriptions:

Addressing Self-Consciousness: Some individuals may feel self-conscious when describing themselves visually. It is essential to create a supportive and non-judgmental atmosphere, emphasizing that the purpose of visual descriptions is to foster inclusivity and understanding.
Only Provide Necessary Information: Encourage speakers to focus on relevant details such as hairstyle, hair color, race/ethnicity, gender, clothing description, distinctive accessories, and mobility aids. Remind them to avoid subjective statements, comments on attractiveness, or insignificant visual details.
Resist the Urge to Editorialize: Emphasize the importance of objective and unbiased descriptions. Remind speakers to refrain from expressing personal opinions or subjective interpretations while providing visual descriptions.

Understanding Visual Descriptions:

Definition: Visual descriptions involve describing one’s physical appearance and providing contextual information on visual elements for the benefit of visually impaired individuals or those joining via audio only channels.
Benefits: Visual descriptions help visually impaired individuals identify speakers, recognize people during interactions, and establish a mental image for future reference. Additionally, they can foster a sense of inclusivity and reduce discomfort in asking for details. We have found that this accessibility also aids those who are not disabled and are joining through audio only channels.

Providing Effective Visual Descriptions:

Verbal Introduction: Incorporate visual descriptions during your verbal introduction. Start by sharing your name, followed by a concise and informative description of your physical appearance.
Captioned Presentations: If your photo is included in a presentation, ensure it is accompanied by a visual description (also known as an image description). Mention the description when discussing visual content on the screen.
Program or Guide: When photos of speakers are included in a program or guide, provide visual descriptions alongside them to offer a visual reference for visually impaired individuals.
Audio Description: For pre-recorded events, consider having a narrator provide a visual description of the speaker as part of the additional narration track.

Key Elements to Include in Visual Descriptions:

Hairstyle and Hair Color: Describe the style and color of your hair to provide a visual reference.
Race/Ethnicity: Mention your racial or ethnic background to further assist visually impaired individuals.
Distinctive Accessories: Mention any notable accessories, such as glasses, jewelry, or other accessories that contribute to your visual appearance.
Mobility Aids: If applicable, include information about mobility aids, such as guide dogs, wheelchairs, blindness canes, or hearing aids.

Considerations and Avoidances:

Attractiveness and Commentary: Avoid comments related to attractiveness or making subjective statements about appearance.
Eye Color: Since eye color is not particularly helpful for visual understanding, it can be omitted.
Body Measurements and Clothing Sizes: Exclude detailed body measurements or clothing sizes from visual descriptions.
Minor Visual Details: Avoid mentioning minor details like a zit or small imperfections.
Clothing Brands: Unless a clothing brand represents a distinctive style, there is no need to mention specific brands.
Unnoticeable Visual Details: Exclude visual details that would go unnoticed by sighted individuals.
Description Length: Keep the visual description concise, generally within a 30-second timeframe.

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