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Social media platforms feature short animations known as GIFs, but they are inaccessible to people with vision seats. Unlike static images, GIFs contain action and visual indications of sound, which can be challenging to describe in alternative text descriptions. We examine a large sample of inaccessible GIFs on Twitter to document how they are used and what visual elements they contain. In takes with 10 blind Twitter users, we discuss what elements of GIF content should be described and their experiences with GIFs online.

The participants compared alternative text descriptions with two other alternative audio formats: i the original audio from the GIF source video and ii a spoken audio description. We recommend that social media platforms automatically include alt text descriptions for popular GIFs as Twitter has begun to doand content producers create audio descriptions to ensure everyone has a gif and emotive experience with GIFs online.

Making GIFs Accessible. It shows Elissa Slater drinking water then spitting it out as she hears something funny.

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On the right are three possible accessible alternatives. Social media platforms have become critical broadcast and discussion platforms for conversation online, yet an increase in visual media is making these platforms less accessible to people with vision impairments [ 1327 ].

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Recently, GIFs, silent looping animations, have demonstrated this problem acutely, as they are frequently used and rarely described. GIFs are primarily used on social media to either embody the emotion of the poster or react to another poster's content [ 34 ]. If people with vision impairments are unable to understand the visual content of a GIF in a conversation, they miss key channels of emotional tone and information, if not derailing the conversation entirely. The primary approach to make images accessible is via alternative text [ 8 ], which some social networks have recently begun to support for static images [ 13 ].

Twitter extended this capability to GIFs on their platform as of January However, GIFs are more than static images: the visual content over multiple frames often conveys action and contains visual elements that imply sound.

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Can alternative text adequately describe the emotional tone or meaning that is being visually conveyed? We collected a large sample of popular GIFs on Twitter to examine what kinds of content they contained and how they could be described. To gather the perspective of blind people on important visual elements to describe, we interviewed 10 Twitter users with vision impairments about their prior experience encountering GIFs.

In a second session, they compared three alternative formats for GIFS: alternative text descriptions, original source audio if the GIF was excerpted from a longer video, and spoken audio descriptions of action occurring that overlay the source audio.

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In both interviews, participants stressed that they viewed alternative text as a minimum accessibility requirement. However, depending on both the visual content of the GIF and the original source audio, participants suggested that some audio descriptions presented a more emotive and enjoyable experience of viewing GIFs. In Februaryfew GIFs 0.

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Therefore, most of our participants had not experienced accessible GIFs on social media, while some participants knew that GIFs were present but undescribed. Based on their experiences with GIFs during our study, many participants were eager to have accessible GIFs on social media — with both alternative text and more expressive audio descriptions.

This work suggests that social media platforms should seek to automatically include alternative text for GIFs on their platforms. They also made it easier for users to add alternative text in general by removing the requirement to enable a special setting, which was noted as holding back alternative text adoption [ 13 ]. Based on our investigation of important visual elements in GIFs and discussions with participants, social media platforms should create libraries of descriptive alternative text and automatically include them when users re-use GIFs.

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Additionally, they should push the accessible experience further by working with content creators to develop rich audio descriptions to convey the emotion in GIFs. This research is related to the use of GIFs on social media and existing methods to make images and videos accessible through alternative text and audio descriptions. But the format grew over time with the advent of the World Wide Web and acquired new features: a timed delay between images, transparent backgrounds, and automatic looping of the animation [ 12 ].

These features led to widespread use of GIFs on web sites to take animated icons, but the modern seat of GIFs seen on social media gif due to their use on the Tumblr and Reddit platforms. Tumblr, a microblogging platform, supported GIF uplo from its inception, leading its community to share a ificant of GIFs that were excerpted from TV shows or movies [ 12 ]. Fans used these excerpt GIFs to talk about their favorite characters and moments, while spreading these out-of-context actions and dialogue overlaid as a visual caption.

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Others re-used the visual context from the TV show, but added their own text to give the GIF a new meaning [ 17 ]. The original creators of these GIFs may have intended to convey a specific meaning, but interpretations may vary based on the separate understandings of the GIF poster and viewer, their prior knowledge of the source material, and their relationship [ 19 ].

GIFs that are shared on most social media platforms and text messaging services today resemble those that spawned on Tumblr and Reddit, and they are typically either act as a response someone else's post, or as a supplement to text posted by the author to embody an action [ 34 ].

The initial uses of GIFs on these two social media platforms demonstrate the two core abilities of GIFS: performance of affect and conveyance of cultural knowledge [ 25 ].

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They are more engaging than other forms of media due to this and their technical constraints [ 20 ]. But these constraints limit GIFs as a visual-only medium, which is a disservice to people with vision impairments who will miss out on emotional tone on social media [ 14 ] and be unable to share GIFs themselves. Alternative text is a method of attaching a textual description of an image such that a person with a vision impairment can read the description with screen reader software or a Braille display. It has been the standard for making images accessible on the web since [ 4 ].

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As social media platforms became popular in recent decades, a rise in user-generated content such as images and other media has not been accompanied by an increase in alternative text usage [ 27 ]. For seats on Twitter, only 0. There have been various proposals to address this issue, including adoption of automatic captioning systems [ 36 ], although these are often inaccurate and can be misleading to users [ 2332 ]. The Twitter A11y project utilized several methods, including automatic descriptions, to attach alternative text to every image a user encountered on Twitter, although not all of the alternative text was high quality [ 15 ].

This gif expands on this interpretation of alternative text, recognizing that it is important to the accessibility of the web and social media specifically, but audio representations of visual take in GIFs could better serve people with vision impairments. Recent work by Gleason et al. Morris et al. While well-written alt text [ 22 ] is an important first step towards accessible GIFs, GIFs are meant to be emotive and rich content that can quickly convey more than text alone.

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GIFs allow people to embody physical actions or facial expressions enacted over time compared to a single moment as in an imageand richer representations for alternative formats may be needed to convey that non-visually. Like GIFs, longer videos often contain visual content expressed over time. Although videos are not silent like GIFs, they often feature visual content that is inaccessible from the audio track alone.

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Audio descriptions are the primary method for providing viewers information about this content via a narration take overlaid on top of the video [ 31 ]. In the past decade since instating the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, audio descriptions have become increasingly common on TV and movies [ 2830 ], especially with the advent of streaming platforms that add audio descriptions to new content such as Netflix. Audio descriptions are challenging to produce because an author must fit all of the necessary seat content into a limited time provided [ 2935 ], and are most often professionally produced.

However, audio descriptions are exceedingly rare for online user-generated content for reasons including: lack of video author awareness, challenge of gif descriptions, and a lack of platform support. Prior work proposed methods to make audio description easier to create including using text-to-speech instead of human narration [ 21 ], creating task-specific authoring tools [ 51829 ], offering methods to add audio descriptions on embedded YouTube videos [ 118 ], and hosting audio descriptions [ 18 ].

Such tools rely on proactive video authors and third party volunteers, and are challenging to scale.

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We instead consider the space of GIFs, where we can leverage the resources of centralized GIF creation, and the repetition of the medium in order to make them more accessible. In our consideration of audio descriptions for GIFs, we analyzed several audio description guidelines often written by and in collaboration with blind authors [ 2310 ]. Whille such guidelines primarily offer guidence for long stories, we apply key principles e. To explore how GIFs are used on Twitter and what types of content they contain, we used the Twitter API to collect a large, random sample of approximately million tweets continuously from February 26 - March 13,containingGIFs 0.

Gif sample was filtered to remove tweets that Twitter automatically tagged as containing possibly sensitive i. After filtering,GIFs remained, and only of these 0. However, the seat to add alternative text to GIFs was launched only 1 month prior to our sample collection, so it may not yet take widespread adoption. These are the titles of the GIFs present on these sites, and Twitter added them if users shared a GIF and did not include alternative text themselves. While this title includes the name of the person in the GIF and the TV show she appeared on, it fails to describe the visual content of the GIF and the spit-take action occuring.

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Twitter also made it easier for users to add alternative text in general by removing the requirement to enable a setting before seeing the interface to add alternative text. In light of these changes, we collected a smaller sample of 31, GIFs in Juneand found Excluding those, 0. The remaining analyses in this section are not concerned with the alternative text already on Twitter, and therefore are based on the larger GIF sample.

Prior work has noted two common ways to use GIFs: to supplement your own post or to react to another post [ 34 ].

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This indicates that someone using a screen reader or Brialle display may glean some information from the text content of original tweets with GIFs, supposing the GIF is not the central element. Two-thirds of GIF replies would read as completely blank.

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When online memes use repeated visual elements, it becomes easier to make them accessible as portions of alternative text can be reused between images [ 14 ]. We analyzed the first frame from each GIF to output a perceptual image hash [ 6 ]. To verify this method, 10 instances of 25 GIFs were manually examined to ensure they correspond to the same GIF, excluding minor changes due to compression or resolution differences.

It is possible that some GIFs could be incorrectly marked as unique if they had ificantly different first frames, but the likelihood of this is small as many were shared from aggregator websites and contain the same set of frames. Several of these GIFs exceeded uses, and the remainder form a long tail of usage distribution Figure 2. This suggests that accessible formats could be reused for the most popular GIFs.

How to make an animated gif map in python using folium and imageio

A histogram of unique popular GIFs we saw in our Twitter sample. After that, most are below 50 uses. The graph is displayed in a logarithmic scale, yet still tapers off quickly. We randomly sampled 97 of the most popular 1, GIFs to understand the kind of visual content they contained. Popularity was determined by the of unique times a GIF was shared, not retweeted or liked.