Post-event notes (updated 14 July 2009):

Jack Pickard delivered a great session about the accessibility of social media, or perhaps the lack of accessibility. It’s something that has been niggling me as we start down the social media route. I’ve been trying to find information and try out different things, like Accessible Twitter, to see what was the best way of handling it.

This session really helped me to consolidate some of my thoughts and also gave me some more avenues to explore.

Jack gave a good round up of why accessibility online is important including the legal and moral obligations on organisations. He then looked at what the main problems accessibility wise are: CAPTCHA, AJAX and user-generated content.This part of the presentation included some specific examples to really bring the problems to life – if the internet connection had been working he even had a video to show but he provided an excellent off-the-cuff transcript instead.

Jack has blogged in more detail about what he said so I won’t repeat it in a poorer fashion here. However, I liked that he ended the session in a positive way. So much talk about accessibility ends on a down note as it does seem like such a vast grey area. Is social media inaccessible? Yes, but it’s not as bad as you think and it’s getting better all the time. Don’t let the accessibility issue of social media be a reason not to do it, try stuff, be prepared to fail, do it again and fail better.

What I wrote at the time:

– He’s not wrong – the away kit is horrible and we aren’t at St James’ Park
– Is socmed accessible? – not really. What are problems? CAPTCHA; speaking about the bizarre and worrying sounding Penis CAPTCHA – leaves word sprinkled through digital text
– UGC – Flickr etc – easy for ppl to submit but no obligation to add alt text etc to make accessibility
– Improvements – FB working to make more accessible to blind, achknowledge they are some way off success.
– Added audio CPATHCHA instead of just the viewable known / unknown words (FB, Twitter and YouTube all work this way)
– Why is the wheelchair the symbol for web accessibility?
– Non-keyboard or mouse users – difficult to tab through social networks, not highlighted etc
– What parts can you make accessible? What are you responsibility?
– There is some responsibility – those already using it are probably able to use it. Those who can’t won’t. What are the DDA issues around providing FB / socmed benefits if the network isn’t fully accessible. If you’re providing information on socmed networks but available elsewhere in accessible format then this is a good way to meet needs
– FB provides some information for users – using screenreader etc
– Accessible twitter – externally developed API (in beta?) – highlight it to followers on vanilla Twitter. Provides many good accessibility features…AJAX alerts, highlighting etc
– Bob’s House on YouTube example: video shows two deaf ppl in car trying to get to friend’s house. Lights in houses coming on – house where no light comes on – Bob’s House!
– Where video’s don’t have sound provide captioning
– Socmed by default aren’t very accessibile. Accessibility is not a reason not to use it. Reason to understand and use properly & testing & Disability Equality Duty (note to self – disabled workers’ group?)#
– you will fail, you’ll make mistakes, experiment and moniter and improve
– you won’t reach everyone but the numbers are growing
– Resources: WebAIM, WebCredible etc

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