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Remediating the MMIW Report

Posted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 12:02 pm
by Danny
Here are a couple of questions from one of our awesome image operators! I'll put in my two cents worth, but please feel to elaborate or correct anything.

Q: When I see background pictures that have random words or part of words, the text description feature picks up some of the text automatically, so do I leave this in? I have been classifying these background images as decorative.

A: Yes, when you classify an image as decorative, you can safely leave the random text in the Description box. Alternative text is not preserved for decorative images, so any text in the Description box won't be saved anyway.

Q: Also some of the picture captions have names of people's names. I have been putting their names in the descriptions under important images.

A: It's best to only describe information that is present in the picture. So while saying "Mr. Jones stands with his family" isn't wrong, it is more helpful to describe the scene objectively. "A tall gray-haired man stands with two children in an oak-paneled office," for example, would be much more descriptive.

Thank you for these great questions, let's keep this discussion going! Your descriptions continue to amaze and impress me - we have such fabulous talent working on this!

Re: Remediating the MMIW Report

Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:48 am
by Daniella.LP
I've been consulting with Rachel, our Production Assistants Coordinator, regarding image descriptions and using culturally sensitive language in the descriptions for the MMIWG Report. The recommendations below are from her.

Overall, we want to make sure we are being as exact as possible when describing language and objects and ensure that we are assigning the correct tribe and use depending on the description. It is good to at least be as exact as possible. For example, in the case of Image #3 of the Calls for Justice document, it is an Inuktitut Language. If you cannot identify the language or tribe, please identify it as an Indigenous script or language and not Native. This is because most Indigenous people want to be identified for exactly who they are, and if that is not possible, then you work your way outward. So if it is not a Cree person, they are Indigenous.

There is a lot of debate around what words to use to describe an Indigenous person, but please avoid Native and Aboriginal. There are people within these communities that may be okay with these terms, but a growing number are more comfortable with Indigenous. Native is outdated, and can actually offend some people. And Aboriginal is also considered outdated and can offend some people. The word itself breaks down to mean not original, and that is just not true of these people.

When it comes to describing Indigenous objects, Rachel advises to be as exact as possible. Give the proper title to the object (i.e. a Metis jingle Dress) and then they describe it in more detail exactly as they see it so people who don't know what a jingle dress looks like can get an idea of it. This means that you are both being exact in what it looks like, and clearly assigning the object to the correct tribe and use.

This does take a bit of research on the describers part, and that can be frustrating since there are not many resources that tell you what all these objects are.

Regarding images of signs with text in other languages, they should not be translated, and, unfortunately, that might mean having to describe it as "these are words written in this language, no translation is given." This is not ideal, but it does speak to the limitations of what we have to work with.

When it comes to Languages that are written in different alphabets, it depends on the language itself. If it is a language that has its own unicode, such as the Inuktitut language for example, we use unicode to replace the syllabics. If it is a language that is too complex to use unicode confidently, such as Arabic for example, and it is an image, production assistants treat it as an image and enter in the alt-text 'this is the Arabic word for blank' and insert a producer's note at the beginning of the text to highlight this. This is not ideal, but what we have to work with right now.

If it is an indigenous language that is written in Latin characters right now we just italicize the words and enter a producer's note at the beginning of the text, since there are currently no voices for TTS to read these words correctly.

Image #3 in Calls for Justice is in Inuktitut, which does have its own Unicode. Rachel looked up the link to the Unicode and there is some good news! They are symbols for Inuktitut, Carrier, Cree, Ojibwe, Blackfoot, and Canadian Athabascan languages. There is also an extended block that has some Cree dialects, more Ojibwe, and Dene. Please note that the extended seems to only work through a PDF link on the page, and these are both wiki pages, and we are not sure how accessible these links are.

Here is the link to the Unicode block: ... ode_block)

Here is a link to the extended block: ... s_Extended

Choosing the correct symbols would require a sighted person to go through the tables and find the correct symbols. There is also a risk of choosing the wrong symbol if they are not native speakers.

This is an important topic, please post any comments or questions here, so that everyone can chime in.

Many thanks!

Re: Remediating the MMIW Report

Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:24 pm
Thank you for the helpful tips on descriptions.
I am having trouble describing things:
traditional dress (a woman wearing a traditional skirt and there are teachings on this)
Elders - do we name them as Elder "Name" lights a bowl...
Where can we find materials to refer to the quilted star (teachings on this), lighting in the bowls (what is the white incense), the fur on the podiums (name of this), pipes (and these are personal), and other ceremonial materials. Are there sites you would recommend over others?
Is there an Elder who will correct these after?
I want to be culturally respectful and objective for the audience - both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

Thanks for your help.