Georgina Kleege and Susan Schweik

"Words, Images and Access" is an invitation to describe one or more of the Fiat Lux photographs and other images on this site

What exactly is this "same page" we all are or should be on? How can a blind student or professor or staff member be "on the same page" in a project that involves viewing, one that in fact that requires seeing photographs?

The two of us are involved in an ongoing project with a group of scholars from across the University of California and elsewhere, exploring the possibilities and problems of audio and textual descriptions of images for blind and visually impaired readers. In that project, we are critiquing examples of audio and textual description as it is currently practiced, examining their aesthetic, ideological, political and ethical underpinnings.

We invite you to join us in exploring the interesting questions raised--about access, about our assumptions about blindness and photography, and about the pleasures and pitfalls of description itself--as together we take up the project of describing in words what is going on in the pictures in Fiat Lux. Our goal is to develop verbal descriptions of every photograph in the book and on this site in order to increase the range of people's access to them, as well as to develop more complex understandings of the acts and implications of describing.

Any describer of any image has to make many choices about how much and what kind of information to include. These choices will inevitably be based in attitudes and assumptions about the people who are being described for. And even when they aim for objectivity and neutrality, descriptions will always come from their own interpretative frameworks, which may be at odds with artists'--here, for instance, Ansel Adams' --intent.

Join us as a describer. Pick a photograph and play with description, following our suggestions in the sidebar.