Wired magazine’s Alex Lee reports about some wonderful online altruists who are making Reddit more accessible.

These are the subreddits cited in the article:

Podcast Transcription

Audio for this segment

This is from a Wired article by Alex Lee. And it’s about Reddit. And we don’t often talk about Reddit in a positive way but now I’m going to.

This story talks about these people on Reddit who are transcribing Reddit. Buried inside the comments section you’ll often find on Reddit elaborate descriptions of image posts, videos, or screenshots and memes. And that’s a result of the Transcribers of Reddit.

They’re volunteers who have a subreddit called Transcribers of Reddit, who voluntarily type out extremely detailed descriptions of various content so that visually impaired people can understand that content.

The goal is making Reddit, and the internet as a whole, a more accessible place. There’s a quote from one of the volunteers, a guy named Jake. He’s a 17 year old student in the US:

“It’s always very nice to volunteer for Transcribers of Reddit because while it’s easy to do, it helps a lot of people. I’ve transcribed quite a few videos for the /r Blind community, they take a bit of time, but in the end, it’s always nothing but positive replies.”

Joe Kaufeld and James Coe are the two guys who started it. And they started it just by noticing that each other were transcribing Reddit content. They were doing it themselves and noticed that, hey, there’s another person who’s transcribing content and decided to start a subreddit that took hold.

They had 30 volunteers by the end of the day, 100 volunteers by the end of the month, and there’s a quote from Kaufeld.

He says: “It took off”–he, and then a moderator of one of the subreddits reached out to him and told him the impact that Transcribers of Reddit had. “He set us down to explain that the kinds of things that we’re doing just to pass the time actually meant things to people who didn’t have access to the same kinds of content that we did, the same ability to join in the conversation. That actually kind of set the tone for everything we did moving forward.”

So once the transcription has been completed, it gets cross-posted to r/ToR_Archive, the Transcribers of Reddit archive. And that’s a place where visually-impaired users know to go to find descriptions of things that they can’t otherwise access.

And then there’s also a subreddit called r/DescriptionPlease, which is for people to place requests for help for volunteers to transcribe visual content that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.

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