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Researchers Are Making Memes Accessible to the Blind (onezero.medium.com)
51 points by kunkelast 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments





From the article:

> “The stereotypical image we might have of a meme is the image with captions at the top and bottom,” says Wark. “But memes have gotten a lot weirder over the last few years. Many don’t really have a punchline like a joke does [...] “A program that can classify these [memes] with a 92% accuracy rate could be extremely useful for meme consumers with visual impairment,” she says.

A large part of the memes I see day to day have no text whatsoever, and their humor comes from the context of the conversation they are being applied to. Many are simple edits whose meaning I think would be near impossible to convey through language.

And why memes? They might provide a good set of data for building algorithms that can truly grasp the context of content while parsing it's meaning, but most memes require you to be part of an in-group, have knowledge of their history and their values, and even then, a single meme could be a humorous homage for one group of people, and a mocking joke for another.


Why memes?

They're talking about the memes from a few years ago when you had the same image always re-used with different text at the top and bottom (Socially awkward penguin, Business Cat etc). They are exploiting the fact that that the image is always the same to help OCR the text.


Specifically, these are image macros[0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_macro


"And why memes?"

I find that memes are, in many popular social contexts within my demographic to be important to participate in basic conversation online.


> [...] a single meme could be a humorous homage for one group of people, and a mocking joke for another.

Those are the best memes.


Reminds me of TranscribersOfReddit[0] which is a great attempt at trying to make the web more accessible for all. Reddit posts get cross posted and those without visual impairments can transcribe the photo. Their bot is also starting to get pretty good!

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/TranscribersOfReddit


Maybe it's for the best that they can't see them?

Blind person here. Images are the reason why I don't use social networks much (and I think I'm better off for it). I mostly use small, private groups on Facebook, the programming side of Twitter which is somewhat bearable, and HN which is as accessible as a site can be.

I would rather see Twitter adding accessibility to its GIFs. In disabled circles, it's common for people to add a descriptor for the GIF, which is awkward and cuts into a limited character count.

I end up not wanting to participate, then feeling a bit guilty because I'm handicapped, though I'm not blind.

There should be native support. This shouldn't be an issue. They offer native support for embedding the GIFs. They should offer native support for the visually impaired. It shouldn't require a workaround.


I think you can already natively add alt text to images including GIFs, but need to enable the UI on your account firist: https://help.twitter.com/en/using-twitter/picture-descriptio...

From the help page:

Note: Image descriptions cannot be added to GIFs or videos.


Doing God’s work.

Except in Europe.

>If you’re visually impaired, most internet memes are inaccessible. That needs to change.

Yeah, memes are exactly what researchers should spend time and resources on, especially with regards to blind people.




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