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Supporting Accessibility on Social Media: A Bufferchat Recap

May 26, 2016 7 min readBufferchat

This week in #bufferchat, we discussed and learned all about supporting accessibility on social media with the incredible insights and knowledge of the founders of #AXSChat: Neil Milliken, Debra Ruh and Antonio Santos!

We touched on a broad range of interpretations of “accessibility”, including how to be accessible to those with physical or intellectual disabilities, the blind and visually impaired communities, those with invisible diseases, those who are different ages, those who speak different languages, those in the Deaf community and are hard of hearing, and everyone and anyone in between.

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, at TWO times every Wednesday for valuable industry insights and networking with nearly 400 other smart marketers and community managers. Same topic, same place, just at different times – feel free to join in to whichever chat time works best for you!

For our community in Asia and Australia (or anyone in other timezones that like this time the best!): 4 pm AEST (Sydney time, UTC+10)

For our community in North/South America, Europe and Africa (or others!): 9 am PT (California time)

bufferchat promo 5.25.16

Q1: What is accessibility & why does it matter?

From Neil, Debra & Antonio:

  • Neil: Accessibility is enabling people of all abilities to use products & services on the web & beyond.
  • Debra: #Accessibility assures we all have access to digital technologies and built environment. #A11y also improves access for ALL.
  • Debra: According to the @WHO “1 in 7 persons have disabilities worldwide.” We create accessible & inclusive designs – we all benefit.
  • Antonio: It’s the toolset to support people with disabilities to perceive, understand, navigate, interact with the Web and people on the Web.
  • Antonio: It’s important, because it allows people with disabilities to use #socialmedia to learn and become members of the digital society.
  • Antonio: Marketing starts with an accessible site or app. You have better chances if the user experience is good.

From the community:

  • “Accessibility helps level the field and widen horizons for people of varying abilities and situations.” @velvetdelirium
  • “Accessibility is about listening for and creating ways for folks to participate and engage.” @allisonletts
  • “Accessibility is relevant to every single person – we don’t know the future – it could be any of us.” @revaminkoff
  • “Accessibility is universal access w/o restriction due to technical or physical barrier.” @varunkr842
  • This image is from fair is not equal. Applies to accessibility as well.” @mrkampmann

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: What are some examples of ways social media has become more accessible?

From Neil, Debra & Antonio:

  • Neil: @Youtube allows users to add captions to videos & also has automatic captioning which is improving.
  • Neil: @Twitter is allowing users to make content #accessible allowing them to add descriptions for images.
  • Neil: Why not vote for the suggestion to add image description capabilities to Buffer and make pictures even more awesome?
  • Debra: #Socialmedia platforms are working on #accessibility – tag your graphics with text, caption videos, provide transcriptions.
  • Antonio: @twitter image descriptions, @YouTube captions, @facebook #AI that write captions for blind users.
  • Antonio: In general the @twitter ecosystem is the most friendly for people with disabilities to consume information and engage.
  • Antonio: When you design a social media campaign and you “Think Accessibility”… your audience grows.

From the community:

  • “Captions, Ease of access on phone & web, text functions, videos w/ subtitles. The list is looonggg.” @graphic_cash
  • “Translation options on @facebook & @YouTube, closed captioning on videos, more variety in content types beyond text updates.” @bekah_lillian
  • “More kinds of social media means more options. Dyslexic? Pinterest is more image-driven.” @damonclarksaid
  • “Being more visual helps people of diff cultures/languages better understand each other & communicate.” @Troy_Sandidge
  • “Voice controls, social schedulers, transparent tagging & simpler visuals have certainly helped w/ #social media accessibility.”  @kellyalovell

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: What products or companies are supporting accessibility well, and how?

From Neil, Debra & Antonio:

  • Neil: The iPhone has some amazing built-in #accessibility features supporting a range of different needs.
  • Neil: Accessible design means it’s possible to use the BBC website in spaces where you can’t use a mouse.
  • Neil: I created the @Atos_IUX Accessibility Academy to teach skills to the next generation.
  • Debra: @Twitter @Facebook have #accessibility teams. They are working with technologists with disabilities & listening to customers.
  • Antonio: We are enabling the next generation of specialists w/ our #accessibility (IUX) Academy Programme, where we have 5 apprentices.

From the community:

  • The color contrast checker from @webaim is a fantastic tool to check image accessibility.” @Di_Mulan
  • “I like how Blab helps folks share their voice, & @Codecademy helps make coding accessible to folks w/o the $ for school.” @margotcodes
  • “Big tech (Google, MS, Apple, FB) is doing a lot. Enhancements for visual/audio impairment, hand use agnostic etc.” @dev_vine

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: How can a more accessible social media impact the tech community as a whole?

From Neil, Debra & Antonio:

  • Neil: #Accessible social media gives #PWD [people with disabilities] voices that can be heard in the same space as the tech industry.
  • Neil: The tech industry is focusing on #diversity – disability inclusion thru #SoMe is a key part of this.
  • Antonio: A more accessible social media allows people with other abilities to join the conversation and is a way to discover new talent.

From the community:

  • #Inclusion means a transformation of the whole. #Access drives innovation by diversifying conversations w/ new & broader q’s.” @stephanie_amon
  • “Voices, Opinions, or otherwise voiceless people can now be heard with the proper accessibility options.” @Ares_0926
  • “More accessibility in SM would normalize diversity in the space and more and more people would feel comfortable joining.” @DiverseSociety
  • “More collaboration, more thought-sharing = bigger and better ideas. It’s exciting to think about it!” @addictivity
  • “Different abilities bring a prospective to products we could otherwise not think of, missing out on huge impacts.” @LauraUlrick

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: Where can you find great resources about how to move accessibility forward?

From Neil, Debra & Antonio:

From the community:

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: If you could design the most accessible/inclusive social media experience, what would it look like?

From Neil, Debra & Antonio:

  • Neil: What’s accessible for me isn’t for someone else. The most accessible #SoMe experience is flexible.
  • Neil: AI will improve & with it the automatic tools like captioning translation & image description. I’m hyped about it.
  • Neil: Give people options on how to consume content – make APIs open. #Accessibility is similar to #BYOD.
  • Debra: #Accessible & #inclusive #socialmedia experiences would allow all users to access your content and would provide methods to access.
  • Antonio: It would be a place, where people like my friend @mollywatttrust, could do everything I currently do… with a minimum effort.

From the community:

  • “Hardest question, everyone’s needs are different so a highly customisable simple platform for disability and tech ability.” @LauraClarkDIG
  • “I don’t know. I’d need to ask the community first and make sure it fit their needs, not just mine.” @Jess_Tupper
  • “Fluid & Seamless. Rigidity means more difficulty adapting and changing to suit diff. needs!” @odemglobal
  • “A place where multimedia is king. Bringing the same content in various forms to include all users of the platform.” @cindymedran0
  • “How do you create a social media hug?” @thedavepepper

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: How can an individual play a role in promoting a more inclusive social media community?

From Neil, Debra & Antonio:

  • Neil: Sharing is caring – get online & join the communities like #axschat & #DDchat – add your voice.
  • Neil: #SoMe facilitates the forming of communities that know no borders & has great power to include.
  • Neil: Become a part of a movement. Inclusive hashtag movements work. Check out #axschat #a11y #neurodiversity.
  • Debra: #Accessibility & #Inclusive #Socialmedia comes down to individuals. Take time to include everyone. All benefit from the efforts.
  • Antonio: Go to the developer forums of LinkedIn Twitter Facebook Snapchat Instagram G+ & vote/put requests for accessibility features.
  • Antonio: Evangelise about #accessibility & inclusion at work. Your work tools need to be accessible to facilitate equal opportunities.

From the community:

  • “Be willing to learn. Accessibility is a continuum. Do your best to keep improving!” @Traci_Poole
  • “See something, say something. If you notice accessibility issues, tell someone. They can’t read your mind or know everything.”  @EliteYouTubePro
  • “To promote a more inclusive social media community, listen + don’t be afraid of “difficult” conversations.” @Wilde_Agency
  • “As with any cause, leverage your community across social platforms to become an influencer!” @kbouffd
  • “Doing something like a #bufferchat where we can brainstorm & help each other out! Talk about it, involve ppl, follow thru!” @nickieva

See all the great answers to question 7 here!

Thank you so much to Neil, Debra and Antonio for sharing all of their awesome insights, and to everyone who participated in this chat!

Catch #bufferchat each Wednesday at 9 am PST, 12 pm EST, 5 pm BST (GMT+1)  **OR** at 4 pm AEST (Sydney time, UTC+10). Join our Slack community with over 2,000 members to continue these awesome conversations all week long!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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