In June of 2019, Canada adopted an Act to ensure a barrier-free country, Accessible Canada Act, making an accessible Canada for people with disabilities. This is great news but… even though this new Act is in place, many web sites, tools, programmes and social media platforms where developed with accessibility barriers, which makes it challenging for people with disabilities to use them.
Before the Accessible Canada Act, people that created content had a choice to be accessible or not. Barriers were not addressed because most people would react by saying there is no law that forces me to be accessible. Now, they no longer have a choice and all the work that was done in the past, has to be revamped and possibly recreated because content MUST now be fully accessible.
Even thought social media platforms are not 100% accessible, people with disabilities use them on a daily basis to communicate and stay connected. As a social media user, I myself tend to forget to apply simple basic accessibility rules when posting on my Facebook page or even when sending an email to a colleague. While social media platforms may not be friendly to all forms of assistive technology, we can control the content we post and should take the necessary steps to make it as accessible as possible.
Here are a few simple things you can do to improve the accessibility of your content when posting on social media or sending out emails:
- Use plain language – Clear and direct text helps a variety of readers, including those using assistive technology like screen readers.
- Use people first language – Speak appropriately and respectfully about an individual with a disability. Emphasizes the person first not the disability.
- Include captions on videos and descriptions on photos – People with hearing loss would be unable to comprehend and engage with video content without captioning. Descriptions under photos helps screen-reading tools to describe images to visually impaired readers.
- Limit emoji and emoticon use – Emoji’s and emoticons get read aloud by assistive technology which mean people will hear things like “loudly crying face” or “face with closed eyes and stuck out tongue.”
- Use camel case for multi-word hashtags – This makes hashtags more legible, more compatible with screen readers.
- Don’t embed text in your images – A screen reader is more limited than a human reader. It can’t read text that’s contained in an image.
- Use short links – Link shortening services not only save you characters in your posts, but they help limit the raw characters a screen-reader has to read aloud.
By following these simple guidelines and making a habit of keeping social media accessibility in mind, this will allow us to connect with more people and help present information in the clearest possible way. In my personal opinion, this is just a way of being a better person and taking into account the wellbeing of others.
When it comes to your social media life, is being accessible a habit or do you need to work on it?
Social Media Links:
Facebook: Social media and accessibility https://bit.ly/378gi3s