How Using the Alt Text Feature Can Improve Your Writing

Tips and tricks abound

Do you remember those pleasant times in creative writing class when the teacher would stick a poster of a picture on the chalkboard and ask the students to write a story on what they saw? Those were my favourite times — using my imagination, turning it into words that made a story come alive. Others of us may recall those times with chagrin, maybe the imagination was not active enough, at least not for some old poster of a cat under a tree on a farm chasing birds as they tried to pick worms from the ground. Really what was the teacher thinking!?!

One of the things that the pictures did was to serve as prompts allowing creativity to flow. You use the words that you knew and tried to find new ones to help in sharing, as clearly as possible, your story idea.

I have seen many (and have participated in a couple) prompts on Medium, encouraging writers to produce a story or a poem on the idea embodied in the words. It fires up the imagination and for persons experiencing writer’s block, helps with the creative process.

So too does Medium’s Alt Text feature that is used to provide written descriptions for the visually impaired.

I am not sure how many persons use it but when I first joined Medium, I used it a lot to provide a description for the pictures that I posted to give visual appeal to my stories. I found that it helped my creative writing over time since I had to look at the image, and come up with a ‘story’ to describe what I was seeing for someone who was unable to.

My vocabulary expanded as I had to decide on the words or phrases that were best to describe the image. If I did not know a word, I had to search and find one. This can be a great tool for persons with English as a second language and who are writers on Medium. It is the best prompt.

So the next time you are scrolling through Unsplash trying to find the perfect image for your story, use the alt text feature and in your head, or on paper jot down words or phrases to describe what you are seeing as if it is for someone who cannot.

And even better, use the alt text feature as a kind gesture to persons wanting to enjoy your story but are visually impaired. Give them the full experience and as a personal benefit, you will be amazed by how your interpretative skills improve and your vocabulary expands.



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Ilis Trudie Palmer

Ilis Trudie Palmer

Energy, Creativity, Spirituality, the Great E.S.C; One dose of upfulness in each story or poem or song lyric.