“I didn’t know about any of this!”
This is a common reaction I get when first connecting with many of my peers and chatting about accessibility. I hear it from fresh-faced marketers who are new to the industry as well as veterans who have witnessed a majority of social media’s evolution from a professional viewpoint. The sentiment is normally followed by an expression of guilt.
Let me be clear: the lack of knowledge around digital accessibility for social media is a failure that should land at the feet of the industry as a whole, not individuals.
Should people be thinking about accessibility? Absolutely. But there is a distinct absence of urgency and prioritization in the marketing world when it comes to accessibility which makes it hard for it to penetrate the industry at different levels of the org chart.
Additionally, most of the social media platforms don’t even do a very good job of stressing the importance of using their accessibility features or best posting practices. Combine those issues with the fact that many modern college marketing programs still don’t cover digital accessibility in their curriculum, and it’s no wonder so many social media professionals have no idea what alt text is or that emojis can impact a screen reader user’s experience online.
Education and resources are the keys to progress here, and everyone in the industry needs to do their part to contribute, including the C-suite.
Digital Accessibility Win of the Week
Remember when Twitter launched their beta version of Voice Tweets last June and was met with a storm of backlash due to the lack of accessibility? Yeah, not a good day for the bird app. But it did start a genuine conversation around how Twitter serves its disabled users, something the social media giant has apparently taken more seriously in recent months. Jak Horner, a senior product designer at Twitter, tweeted this update on Voice Tweets last week.
This is certainly a step in the right direction for Twitter, which has shown itself to be the social media platform that probably cares the most about digital accessibility right now and being transparent about the steps it’s taking to be more inclusive.
Digital Accessibility Fail of the Week
I was very disappointed to see that Bell Let’s Talk—a Canadian awareness campaign that focuses on mental health—failed to caption their video promoting their fundraising efforts for Bell Let’s Talk Day.
Granted, the point of the video was just to rack up views with no additional call to action outside of that goal. Every view was a 5¢ donation from Bell, but the video still should have had been captioned before it was published. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals experience mental illness too and shouldn’t have been excluded from the message just because of a production oversight.
It’s a shame that Bell didn’t learn anything from the other Bell.
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!
You Should Retweet This
There are apparently people out there who don’t believe that Helen Keller—or more specifically, her accomplishments as a deafblind woman—was real. Yeah, seriously.
Debra Ruh points out in the piece below that this is an incredibly ableist argument to make. Ruh is the CEO-Founder of Ruh Global Impact and also deafblind.
Word of Advice
Instagram allows you to add up to 30 hashtags to a single post, and a lot of users take full advantage of that limit. However, hashtags can slow down a person’s experience if they’re using a screen reader to navigate Instagram. That’s a lot of hashtags to read! Instead of putting them in your caption, put them in the first comment of your post. Or, at the very least, make sure your caption and block of hashtags are separated by a few hard returns so screen reader users can easily tell where the two start and stop.
(And yes, the name of this section did change from Just The Tip. My VP made a joke about calling HR. Even though I’m pretty sure he was kidding, it’s better to be safe than sorry, ya know?)
Looking for an easy way to double-check your social media content before posting it? Download my handy checklist and make sure you always have the basics of digital accessibility for social media covered!
These individuals won’t always necessarily be tied to digital accessibility or advocacy, but I feel they add significant value to the world and want to share them with you!
Nicole Tabak is basically my Twitter best friend and a passionate advocate for self-care and wellness for content creators. Her weekly newsletter also feels like your inbox is taking a contented sigh every Thursday.
Jayde Powell will fill your timeline with heavy doses of humor and honesty. She’s also hands-down one of the best Community Managers I have ever met and was recently featured as one of 18 Black creators to follow on social media.
My friends Syed Ali and Chantelle Marcelle recently started hosting a Clubhouse Room where they talk about all things marketing. Outside of Clubhouse, they’re also excellent people to follow on Twitter. Sy is a master Fleets curator and Chantelle has a great marketing newsletter.
One Last Thing
Excited to share that I’ll be hosting a breakout session at the Instagram Edition of the Social Pulse Summit on February 24th. I will, of course, be talking about digital accessibility and how to make sure that your Instagram content is inclusive. The summit is free, so be sure to sign up!
Secrets, secrets are no fun unless you share with everyone! This logic also applies to newsletters and your Netflix login.