"That’s in the eye of the beholder:" Layers of Interpretation in Image Descriptions for Fictional Representations of People with Disabilities


Image accessibility is an established research area in Accessible Computing and a key area of digital accessibility for blind and low vision (BLV) people worldwide. Recent work has delved deeper into the question of how image descriptions should properly reflect the complexities of marginalized identity. However, when real subjects are not available to consult on their preferred identity terminology, as is the case with fictional representations of disability, the issue arises again of how to create accurate and sensitive image descriptions. We worked with 25 participants to assess and iteratively co-design image descriptions for nine fictional representations of people with disabilities. Through nine focus groups and nineteen interviews, we discovered five key themes which we present here along with an analysis of the layers of interpretation at work in the production and consumption of image descriptions for fictional representations.



Emory James Edwards, Kyle Lewis Polster, Isabel Tuason, Emily Blank, Michael Gilbert, and Stacy Branham