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This introduction to describing images, an institutional supplement to the Art Beyond Sight guidelines, is posted here for MCA Coyote team members. The guidelines are in development and changing regularly. Check back here for updates.

MCA Guidelines for Describing

Guidelines for writing alt descriptions

Guidelines for writing long descriptions

General guidelines

Additional Resources

Art Beyond Sight Guidelines for Verbal Description

We use the guidelines outlined below for describing artworks. Please visit their website for detailed explanations for each guideline.

  1. Standard Information
  2. General Overview: Subject, Form, and Color
  3. Orient the Viewer with Directions
  4. Describe the Importance of the Technique or Medium
  5. Focus on the Style
  6. Use Specific Words
  7. Provide Vivid Details
  8. Indicate Where the Curators Have Installed a Work
  9. Refer to Other Senses as Analogues for Vision
  10. Explain Intangible Concepts with Analogies
  11. Encourage Understanding through Reenactment
  12. Provide Information on the Historical and Social Context
  13. Incorporate Sound in Creative Ways
  14. Allow People to Touch Artworks
  15. Alternative Touchable Materials
  16. Tactile Illustrations of Artworks

Image Description Guidelines from the Diagram Center

These guidelines provide great information about describing charts, maps, and technical images.

Diagrams: Illustrated Diagrams: Relational Graphs Maps Text Only Images

Still have questions about how to describe? Send an email to webteam@mcachicago.org.

Do you have a recommendation for a feature that would improve your coyote describing experience? Please email webteam@mcachicago.org. If you have encountered a bug in the software, please report it here.