I very recently had a conversation with a gentleman on LinkedIn who couldn’t understand why the deaf community was pushing so hard for captions to be added to Clubhouse. He said, “The whole platform is audio-only. If you can’t hear, what’s the point of an audio-only platform? It would be like a blind person watching a movie with no sound.”
I calmly explained, “Just because someone is deaf doesn't mean that their hearing is completely gone. Even if it is, that doesn't mean they should be excluded from a conversation or receiving information. And captions can also provide a better experience for viewers with learning disabilities, attention deficits, or autism. A lot of people who aren't disabled (like myself) also rely on captions to make it easier to comprehend audio information, especially if the speaker is talking quickly or has an accent. And there is technology to make the visual aspects of a movie accessible for blind and low-vision individuals. It's called audio descriptions and it can be found in the audio/subtitles section of most streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.”
He thanked me for my thoughtful response and for teaching him something new.
Initial reactions like this person’s don’t usually come from a place of malice, but from a place of ignorance and lacking basic information. And sadly, a lot of people are also comfortable with their narrow perception of the world.
Educate yourself beyond your own lived experiences and the world will be better for it.
PS: Sorry this newsletter is a day late. I had a lot going on yesterday and just didn’t feel like sending it out when I was so tired.
The Good Stuff from July
Captions Arrive for Voice Tweets
Last summer, Twitter released the beta version of Voice Tweets. The platform received a world of backlash from the deaf community and accessibility advocates when it became obvious that the feature didn’t have captions or a transcription option. This ultimately sparked a massive accessibility overhaul for Twitter, and it seems we have come full circle, as captions are finally available for Voice Tweets!
Twitter Support @TwitterSupportTranscription for audio and video is part of our larger plan to make Twitter accessible for everyone across all features, both existing and new. https://t.co/c9LTPiE003 (2/2)
Delta Launches New Safety Video
It’s no secret that Delta is the internet’s favorite airline. The company recently teamed up with the Fab 5 and premiered a new safety video that was diverse and accessible. It featured captions and several cameos of people who were recently on Queer Eye. Overall, a lovely video with a great message.
Google Docs Gets an Update
I love that Google decided to update its Docs feature to make it more user-friendly for anyone using a screen reader or Braille display. Solid move!
Instagram Adds Translation Ability
As Instagram places more importance on sharing videos, it’s finding new ways to make sure that videos on the app are accessible. This now includes the ability to translate text in stories.
Teach For America Learns Something New
We love to see a learning moment. Teach For America recently learned that ASCII Art in its traditional form isn’t accessible for screen reader users, and make sure to share how to post ASCII Art in an accessible way. Shout out to my friend Eliza for being the one to educate TFA.
Twitter Creates Sensory Guide for Spaces
The accessibility team for Twitter continues to do excellent work and released a useful sensory guide for Spaces so users have a better idea of what to expect when people do certain interactions in a Space.
A Breakdown of A11y
Have you ever wondered what a11y was or how to say it? My friend Ashlee does an excellent breakdown of the number-based word that I found very helpful!
UX Principles that include Cognitive Accessibility
This is an excellent write-up on UX design principles that includes a neurodivergent perspective from Gareth Ford Williams.
The Bad Stuff from July
Theater Captioning Devices Suck
I never realized how bad the captioning devices that theaters offer were so bad. Like this is straight-up terrible. I personally have captions turned on for almost everything I watch and wouldn’t mind at all if open captions in movie theaters became the default. If you feel the same, consider signing this petition.
The AccessiBe Saga Continues
It’s truly sad to watch AccessiBe continue pitching their overlay service, which does not make your website accessible like the organization says it does.
Disability Partnerships @dpp2016We are proud to support accessiBe as they work to make the internet accessible for all! @AccessiBe Check out their new Unstoppable commercial at the link below! #WeAreUnStoppable National TV Commercial | Web accessibility is accessiBe https://t.co/s81MSMuzoz https://t.co/Ox2HIQ9NWk
Stop Using Alternative Characters
Not sure how many times I’ll need to say it before major brands get: you should not use alternative characters in your content because not all assistive devices and programs can read them. I also just don’t understand anyone going out of their way to add alternative fonts to their content when most social media professionals talk about being short on time for their tasks. This tactic adds time to your work.
Reframe Your Thinking
A lot of people need to get better at thinking outside of their own lived experiences and stop making rash assumptions based on limited knowledge, myself included. I really appreciate how my friend Ashlee pointed out why something like an ear of corn would be packaged a certain way so that people with limited mobility could easily unpackage it. Really makes you look at packaging differently!
John Rush 🐶🌱 @JohnRush32If only there was some way for us to not have to wrap corn in so much plastic, like if they came in their very own natural protective case… https://t.co/EcpRpopofW
Have you recently spotted a major digital accessibility win or fail on social media? Send it to me! I might just feature it in my next newsletter. Feel free to email me at email@example.com or you can DM me on Twitter. My inbox is always open!
I find some of the best tips and resources on Twitter from other creators and advocates, and I want to share them with you, too!
Paths to Literacy @PathstoLiteracyTactile graphics are especially important in helping students who are #blind or visually impaired to develop O & M (Orientation and Mobility) skills. 🗺️This blog post explores "tactile graphicity" or the ability to read and write #tactile images. https://t.co/ei3oS3vaqj
Are you looking for an online community where you can learn more about accessible social media practices? Join the Facebook group I created! Accessible Social is a group dedicated to helping anyone working in social media, marketing, public relations, communications, or advertising learn more about accessibility best practices for digital content. All are welcome!
These bits of wisdom and insightful reads made me immediately stop scrolling. Hopefully, they get your brain fired up as well.
Mark Your Calendar
August 24–25: I’ll be speaking at the State of Social conference in Australia again this year! My dear friend Meg Coffey asked me back, and my session will be pre-recorded (because hello time difference). Snag a ticket if you can!
One Last Chuckle
Love you, Velveeta. Thanks for screaming about how much you love accessibility.
Secrets, secrets are no fun unless you share with everyone! This logic also applies to newsletters and your Netflix login.