Social media… are you being inclusive.

Did you know that more then 6 million Canadians aged 15 and over have a disability and that at least one billion people, 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability?

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.

Photo by Omkar Patyane on Pexels.com of someone adding a post on his or her phone.

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?

References:

Disability Inclusion Overview (worldbank.org)

Making an accessible Canada for people with disabilities – Canada.ca

Making Social Media More Accessible to People with Disabilities | 3Play Media

7 Ways to Make Social Media Accessible » Community | GovLoop

How to Caption Social Media Videos and Boost Engagement (3playmedia.com)

Social Media Links:

Twitter: Keeping accessibility in mind https://bit.ly/378gi3s

Facebook: Social media and accessibility https://bit.ly/378gi3s

5 thoughts on “Social media… are you being inclusive.

  1. Thank you for this blog. I think the subject you chose was really insightful and what a great way to talk about disability on social media. I had never really thought about it before reading your blog since for me it was kind of natural to make sure that everyone felt included but it is true that social media platforms do not usually have accessibility features. I can remember one of my friends having issues with small characters and he could not join some of the social media platforms because they did not have the features to enlarge the text. I think it is important for people that develop these platforms to make sure that they are accessible to everyone and next time I post something, I will make sure to follow your recommendations.

    • Good morning Catthi,
      Glad you enjoyed my blog. It’s not easy to be fully accessible when the platforms where not designed for it. Developers are working hard to fix these problems but it’s not an easy task. At least if we do our part, it will be that much more accessible. Have a great day!

  2. This is a great blog post and something I’m really glad you addressed! I work in higher education and while we’ve made steps in the right direction on our social media platforms, we have a long way to go. The camel case for multi-word hashtags is something I’ve implemented for the last few years but see so many people still using all lower case. While social media platforms have come a long way in terms of integrating more accessibility tools, I believe there still needs to be more education around this topic to create a more inclusive environment. This blog provided some great reminders and tips, thank you!

    • Happy you enjoyed my blog. Good for you for implementing the camel case multi-word hashtags. Great for screen readers! I agree with you, we do have a long way to go and when it comes to being more inclusive in the workplace, education, training and awareness are essential. Thank you for the comment.

  3. Insightful information in your blog. Some things I knew about already, others I had not given any consideration to. Designing things for people with disabilities, from a physical or virtual perspective, always seems to be put on the backburner. I will make certain that I keep your comments in mind, now that I learned a few things here myself.

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