Tech Standards: Adding Image Descriptions to iOS Photos

Mainstream National Technology standards require students to add photos and images to documents and slide presentations, which is typically introduced in First Grade. But first, students who are blind or low vision need to be able to identify the pictures. In this post, we will discuss how to add "captions" or image descriptions to images in the Photos app on iOS devices. This method does require that the student be familiar with the image - either by taking the photo or receiving a photo and immediately adding the description or by having someone describe the image and adding the description.

Note: In recent years there have been advances using AI (artificial intelligence) to identify and describe images. While AI continues to improve, many images are not yet identified correctly.

Adding a Description

Descriptions can be added with or without VoiceOver running. The directions below and the video tutorial demonstrate how to add descriptions while running VoiceOver.

  • Open the Photos App on the iPad or iPhone
  • Navigate to and select the desired photo: Right swipe and double tap or drag and split tap. (The VoiceOver focus moves to the Back Button.)

Note: VoiceOver will announce the date that the photo was taken. Remember the date as the date is always announced when the VoiceOver focus is on the image.

  • Move the VoiceOver focus to the image: Tap in the center of the screen.
  • Show Details: Swipe down with one finger until VoiceOver announces, Show Details.
    • Double tap on photo. 

Note: For regular pictures, the VoiceOver focus will be on the Add a Caption Textbox. If the picture is a live picture, the VoiceOver focus will be on the first picture under Effects. If VoiceOver is on the Live image, left swipe twice to move back to Add a Caption Textfield.

  • When on the Add a Caption Textfield, double tap to edit.
    • Type the desired image description. (In the video tutorial, the description is, "Hunter and Lola sitting on the grass between two small American flags.")
  • Close the Add a Caption page: Drag to the the Done button in the top right corner and select.
  • Exit the page: Drag to the back button in the top left corner and select to go back to the thumbnail pictures. 

Note: VO automatically announces the date the photo was taken. To hear the caption, repeat the process.

  • To hear the caption, navigate to and select the desired photo. (VoiceOver only announces the date.)
    • VoiceOver focus will be on the Back button: Touch the center of the screen to move VoiceOver focus to the photo.
    • Swipe down to Show Details and select.
    • VoiceOver automatically reads the caption.
    • Select Back button in top left to close.

The video below demonstrates how to add photo descriptions.

Additional Resources