Initially I was not sure of how much information is out there for accessible social media or how much work would be involved in putting together resources to help with making accessible social media more accessible.
Turns out that many other people are sharing their thoughts, tricks and tips on how to make their online content and social media more accessible.
I was not sure where to start, should I explain the issues by disability related access problem or Functional Limitation or tackle it 1 tool at a time.
Not know what to do I did what a lot of people do I turned to Google to solve my problems. I also, suspected that a tool like Twitter might be a good place to start because I assumed that since it is mainly sharing text content it would be an easier place to address some of the access issues so I Googled (great that Google is now a verb isn’t it?). I was excited to see that after Googling “accessible Twitter” I came up with some great hits right off the bat.
Social Media Accessibility – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube http://www.queensu.ca/accessibility/how-info/social-media-accessibility
This Queen’s University is an interesting resource. It is simple and covers some basic access issue for 3 heavily used tools. Many of the ideas are cross service/platform meaning the ideas could apply to other tools once you understand why they are needed. In the case of the above 3 tools it is not that the content can’t be made more accessible it is more that the service needs to be more developed from an accessibility point of view. It all seems to boil down to WCAG concepts like Percievability, Operability, Understandable and Robustness.
- Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
o This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can’t be invisible to all of their senses)
- Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.
o This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform)
- Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
o This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding)
- Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.
o This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible)
It seems to me following the WCAG Accessibility Principles also enhances the tools usability.
Instead of looking at a specific disability or going over some ideas for each tool I want to introduce 5 things that you might do with any of your on-line content to help make it more accessible. My hope is that using these ideas will make your content more accessible regardless of the tool you are using (assuming the tool support what I am suggesting) that way you have some things you can do to help more people access your content on more platforms and services.
Many different tools allow text content. Almost any tool and device supports text so looking at things you can do to improve text accessibility should have a big impact.
Plain English or rather plain language may be a good place to start. “Choose your next words carefully…”. Working at a college I often wonder about the language we choose and whether it is readable/accessible to the intended audience? What terms do we understand, what grade level is our reading at and are the people trying to reach us using language that makes sense? I see tons of short forms and acronyms on the web, especially when trying to cram a lot of info into a Tweet, does it make sense to the people we are trying to reach?
Clear Print and Fonts
The CNIB (used to be known as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind) has a Clear Print Guideline document that suggests base Font sizes, the use of Sans-Serif Fonts and more that can be used to make things easier to read. Many of the features would make something easier to read for someone using a small display like your phone (granted Phablets are not exactly small displays?) and make reading easier for someone when English is not their first language (funny how access is more than just a disability issue, I actually like to think of it as an ability issue).
3 things you can do to enhance your text.
- Keep the language clear and simple
- Use a sans-serif font
- Use a reasonable font size and contrast
The first thing that comes to mind is Podcasting. There still seems to be more audio only Podcasts out there so I am starting with Audio.
When people think about audio accessibility things like transcripts and closed captioning come up.
The Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C) says:
Transcript – required. For most W3C media, such as recordings of teleconferences, you only need to get/make and post a transcript to provide basic accessibility.
Other things to consider include how much background noise is in your recording, how fast are you talking, are there too many sound affects etc.
3 things to consider for audio
- Keep it as clean as you can
- Do not talk to fast and take time to breathe – this allows the listener some time to process
- Provide a text transcript
If anyone has any insight on how to make more accessible music I would love to explore it?
Accessible video seems to be a sweat inducing, high blood pressure type of conversation because we use so much audio video content and it is so easy to create. We just pull out our phone turn on the camera app and start shooting, and then when we are done we click on the little Facebook “thingie” and up it goes to all our friends. I have to admit, I am not putting any thought to making these videos more accessible.
So what can I do to make videos more accessible?
Visual Description/Describe Video etc.
I have seen many different terms used in the last while but they generally mean the same thing an Audio Description: a narrator talking through the presentation, describing what is happening on the screen or stage during the natural pauses in the audio, and sometimes during dialogue.
The W3C has some information on how to create Audio Descriptions
Related to Audio Descriptions is the more commonly known Closed Captioning
Captioning is a transcript of what is said and heard that is displayed in text on screen during a video timed to when the voice and sounds happen. The important part is that the text information about the sound happens at the same time as the sound… The closed part of Closed Captioning means that the user can turn the caption on or off. Another type of captioning is Open Captioning which can’t be turned off.
How to caption your video the easy way
Put your video on YouTube and watch this video!
This is a great YouTube video that not only entertains you, explains why captioning is useful but also shows you an easy way to do it.
If you are okay with putting your videos on YouTube you can caption your videos easily.
Offline captioned videos
1 trick you can try to generate a time stamped caption file for an offline project is to load your video to YouTube on a private channel, caption the video using autocaption or do it manually, adjust the timing and correct the text and then download the caption file as a *.vtt, *.srt etc. You can do this under the Action button when you are in the Caption tab of your video.
I did not really touch on Visual Descriptions but they are very similar to Closed Captioning in concept anyway and I did not get into how to make graphics and pictures more accessible. Graphics can be both simple and complex like most other issues and if I do get into it I will do it on a separate post.
Some questions for you?
How can someone who can’t see know what you are sharing in a picture?
What if you use colour for meaning and someone is colour blind?
Does a picture mean the same thing to everyone?
How many words are in a picture?
Even better, what language is a picture?