Making visual comics screen-readable with transcriptions (CIB21 Satellite)

Introduction

Fellow comic artists, let’s transcribe our comics together! On the Friday before the comics festival “Comic Invasion Berlin“, in the accompanying program, CIB21 Satellites, I offer an online workshop for fellow comic artists who want to collaborate on creating text-only versions of their online comics to make them more accessible. Screen-readable text-only versions accompany visual versions of my comics to make them accessibly to comics for blind people and everybody else that uses screen-readers to surf the web. This workshop especially invites artists of comics communicating activism from and for marginalized communities. As a queer and non-binary trans comic artist, communication is very close to my heart.

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Corner of Herero- and Waterbergstraße

Background of the Comic

This Comic on the colonial history of Germany was first published in German for and at Literatur Portal Bayern. The narrator from Munich, walks through one of the streets of their town, Herero Straße. It was renamed twice, in 1933 and 2007. We follow them on their walk through the street and see their subjective view of historic events.

One needs to understand history to understand current events, like joint civilian efforts for the renaming those streets, which currently pay tribute to mass murderers and places of mass murder. And where colonial occupation of the African continent is concerned, the German Empire, constituted in 1871 was right up among the front runners. The visual version of this comic is followed by a text-only version available for screenreaders.

Visual version of the comic

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Minicomic 16 : Story of the castle

Background to Comic

I love to use my comics to share my understanding of theories. The analogy of a house for explaining deconstruction is based on an article in the booklet “Wer andern einen Brunnen gräbt” by Mostafa Akhtar. In 2013 the German version of this comic and its text-only transcript were published as a guest article on the Mädchenmannschaft blog. Below the visual Comic find a text-based version, a screenreadable comic version.

visual version of the comic

Minicomic 16 - Story of the castle, the entire comic is transcribed to plain text
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Minicomic 19 : A quota of 100 percent

Background to Comic

I get annoyed with the whining about quota of women on boards of private companies. One get the misleading impression there is only one axis of discrimination, that is sexism, but there is definitively more. I want to point at the 100% quota on the management level. This is what needs to be removed. The setup of the management floor is a symptom for how society is structured as a whole. Below the visual Comic find a text-based version, Screenreadable Comic Version.

This minicomic uses quotes from four tweets by KhaosKobold, Baranek, Enoerlee and Miinaaa, and cites a blog post by John Scalzi, “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is”.

visual version of the comic

Minicomic 19 : A quota of 100 percent - the entire comic is transcribed to plain text
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Web Comic Series : Queer Comic Conversations

Introduction

For Goethe-Institut Wellington in New Zealand, Sam Orchard and me and went to have and draw Queer Comic Conversations. Sam Orchard is well know for his web comic Rooster Tails. This web-comic series was published simultaneously in English and German from July to December 2020. In addition to two pages of visual version of the comic, each episode contains a text-based version, a transcript where visual information is written out as text. More on the background on this can be found in my article on #ScreenReadableComics. More information on the background of the comic project can be found at the end of this page.

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Comic : Not all by herself

Handwritten title: Not all by herself.

I am interested in queer women who lived before my times, whether they identified as lesbians or not. I am fascinated how they broke with clothing standards of their times and how the didn’t.

Sketch of Erika Mann with hat, jacket and tie.

I would love to rummage through an archive of all people that have ever lived, filled with what they wanted to leave with following generations, with their perspective on their own lives and with those ideas that were of importance to them. A complete archive like that does not exist, but actors_actresses, writers and other artists leave behind their creation and sometimes more in diaries, newspaper articles and biographies.

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Transcribing Screenreadable Comics

Introduction

I want my comics to be accessible not only visually, but also tactile and acoustic. Therefore I need a transcription into pure text. Visual elements of the comics have to be described and the pixelated text from the comics image file is typed out. This text is machine-readable. Readers can access it with text-to-speech systems and braille display.

Wanting to make make my comics accessible beyond the visual has a lot to do with my own audience. I wrote about this in my first blog post on screenreadable comics, which includes a list of all the comics already transcribed.

The first workshop “Transcribing Screenreadable Comics” was offered to comic artists in September 2020. The workshop covered three objectives of transcribing comics. Firstly, the comic should gain accessibility for more readers. Secondly, the transcription enables text search and googleability. Thirdly, making comic transcriptions can be a tool of analyzing and getting to know ones own work.

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Screen Readable Comics

Why do they need to be screenreadable?

Pixilated online comic are not accessible to everybody. A screen reader is unable to read out text from image files in .jpg format. A screen reader is a tool that converts text and HTML structures into a form accessible for readers using a speech synthesizer or a braille display. The output is acoustic or tactile. People that surf my website with speech synthesizer or braille display would not have access to the comics. How can I change that?

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Article : sketches and notes hosted here first

I want more control over my data, therefore I will first publish #immerzeichnen Sketches and part of my tweets and facebook updates here.

Starting this week, this website got its own sketchbook: www.annaheger.de/immerzeichnen. Posting excerpts from my sketchbook and from work in progress projects motivates me to keep going and to sketch regularly. I created the hashtag #immerzeichen to tie these posts together and enable my followers to mute the stream of visual input if necessary.

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Comic Documentation : Erika Mann Exhibition in Monacensia in Hildebrandthaus in Munich

The Monacensia in Munich invited Bloggers to experience their Erika Mann exhibition. They are part of the pubic library in Munich and host the literary estate of the whole Mann familiy. We were introduced to the house, their archival work, the Erika Mann exhibition and a lyrically live performance. I was watch and listened and kept sketching away.

Introduction of the library: “Monacensia operates as literary memory for Munich”.

3 bloggers in the exhibition

My ink sketches and a view of the Erika Mann Exhibition.

sketchbook and view of Erika Mann exhibition
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Book : Layers of naked

We took a one week break from our daily lifes and met at Waldschlösschen Academy near Göttingen to write a book with queer short stories. The framework for the book was set by Bram and Mio, the creators of the BuchLabs Series, a collaborative creative writing project for queer authors. Queer life is relevant. Let’s make a book out of it.

We worked layers of experiences into short stories. The stories touch LGBTQ topics and deal with neurodiversity, bigotry, passing, kinds of family, and the meaning of nakedness, illness and joy. I feel full of joy for my stories and elated at the coauthor’s stories that I saw come into existence and grow. I am happy about all the insights I got from them and the input I gave to them.

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Workshop : Nonbinary Gender Label Biographies Bern

I will participate a the Trans Congress in Bern with a workshop. On Sunday, the 8th of September at 3pm I will facilitate a workshop on sharing our experiences with gender labels. Choosing labels is often not easy for trans people that are not binary trans.

Nonbinary Gender Label Biographies

Finding gender labels that fit and dealing with wrong gender labels is especially hard for nonbinary trans people. This workshop is for all people on the trans spectrum that are not (only) trans men and trans women. You may call yourself nonbinary or not.

The workshop will provide a space for each to talk about how our gender labels changed and provide the opportunity to listen to each other. Finding gender labels that fits is not straight forward, but there is happiness in being seen and understood. The workshop will be held in English and the gender labels may be in any language.

Overview over all workshops.

Comic : Walking home

Background to Comic

A very short comic for the Daily-Comic-Challenge initiated by Henna Hoplin on the topic “What I didn’t know until…”. You don’t know stuff until you do. How did it feel to suddenly realize and understand something new or from a totally different point of view? The memory in the comic is from me working as a councilor at a vacation camp for children when I was 20 years old. The children were sweet but also challenging. What do you do, all by yourself with a child running off into the woods. I was not up for a game of catch back to New York City.

Below the visual Comic find a text-based version, Screenreadable Comic Version.

visual version of the comic

Walking home, the entire comic is transcribed to plain text
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