Author Resources

Guidelines for Describing Visual Resources in the Arts and Humanities

Create quality description by following guidelines and reviewing examples. Experts from many fields came together to define guidelines for describing visual resources in arts and humanities publications. These guiding principles will help you approach description in your work.


Understand the technical components of visual resources in digital publications and how users with print disabilities access them. Where print works have only the text and the visual resource, digital publications have additional, hidden text associated with images and accessed via specialized technology. Understanding these technical components will help you to use them effectively to provide additional information to those who need it.

Existing Resources to Support Description

Survey the landscape of descriptive practices from fine arts to journalism to visual access. Many disciplines have well- established conventions or standards for describing visual resources. The resources collected in this list represent a broad range of disciplines and, although highly technical and specific, may prove useful when attempting to describe content from a discipline with established practices and vocabularies, such as art or architecture.

Society for Disability Studies Letter to Publishers [external link]

Let publishers know that accessibility matters to you. In June, 2015, a coalition of disability studies scholars drafted an advocacy letter, for authors to share with publishers, outlining and urging accessible publishing practices. This letter may be a useful reference when negotiating a book deal or just talking to publishers about their practices.

Permission Request Language

Request and reuse existing professional description when possible. When requesting permission to reproduce a visual resource in your work, you can promote access to that image by requesting description already created and maintained by the rights holder which may be modified for accessibility.