#16: October 2021

Allyship doesn't mean virtue signaling

Let’s have a bit of a chat about being an ally. By the dictionary definition, an ally is, “one who is associated with another as a helper, a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle.”

Pretty straightforward for the most part. As an ally, you are present to support others. Hopefully, you’re also an ally because you want to learn and grow and expand your own view of the world. If you’re an ally, you should be open to new ideas, new experiences, and most importantly, the possibility that you will need to change in order to become a better ally. Allies act for the good of others and their respective cause. They don’t do things for clout or brownie points, and they definitely hate the act of virtue signaling.

This means listening to the people or group you’re acting as an ally to and accepting feedback as well as criticism, should the occasion arise. Having a defensive attitude when you’re given valid feedback or asked genuine questions isn’t part of the allyship credo. Listen to the people you claim to support and learn.


The Good Stuff from September

Twitter Testing Prompt for Alt Text

I am so excited about this feature. Once upon a time you had to opt into the image description feature on Twitter, and now, more than a year since the platform changed that, it looks like Twitter will soon be introducing an option where you can get a prompt if you go to post an image without alt text. Love that!

TikTok UK Gets Auto-capations

Yay for more people getting access to captioning on TikTok! The app has been slowly rolling out the feature in different countries, and it would seem that users in the UK will now have access to it.

Snapchat is FINALLY Getting Captions

Snapchat has been around for a full decade now (yes, that made me feel old), and it looks like the app will finally be getting a captions feature soon. Translation of tweet: New Snapchat feature where you can add subtitles to videos, and you can even correct them (but not customize them).

Teaching Accessibility to Middle Schoolers

We all know that most people find it easier to absorb and retain information at a younger age, so why wouldn’t you teach children and pre-teens about the importance of accessibility? This is an excellent idea.

Learning Moments

Spotify Forgets Captions

This was so disappointing to read about. For a major brand like Spotify to host a conference about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and then not make captions available is totally unacceptable. Accessibility is part of DEI work.

Stop Excluding People With Disabilities from the Spotlight

The disabled community was briefly hopeful that there would be a frontstage ramp at this year’s Emmys event after director James LeBrecht lobbied for one.

Sadly, the Television Academy failed to keep its promise and continued to exclude people with disabilities from the stage and the spotlight. Even if no one that evening needed the ramp, it still should have been provided. Accessibility in any form should never be an afterthought.

The Importance of People-First Language

This is something I myself am trying to get better at in order to be a better ally. People-first language emphasizes the person and their individuality before their disability. Of course, if an individual has a preference for how they self-identify, that should always be respected.

Stopping Doubting the Capabilities of Others

The below statistic was so disappointing to read. That 94% of people believe a person with a vision impairment could not do their job is truly astounding, but it’s indicative of how far we still have to go as a society.

Have you recently spotted a major digital accessibility win or learning moment on social media? Send it to me! I might just feature it in my next newsletter. Feel free to email me at hello@therealalexa.com or you can DM me on Twitter. My inbox is always open!

Alt Text Practice

I previously ran a weekly exercise on Twitter called #AltTextTuesday. Due to my increasing workload, I decided to move the exercise here, to my newsletter. Each month I’ll choose a different image from Pexels, and I encourage you to practice writing your best alt text for it. If you have questions or want feedback on your image description, feel free to email me!

Photo by James Wheeler

Excellent Resources

I find some of the best tips, resources, and insights on Twitter from other creators and advocates, and I want to share them with you, too!

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!

Join the Group

Scroll Stoppers

These bits of wisdom made me immediately stop scrolling. Hopefully, they get your brain fired up and thinking as well!

Mark Your Calendar

October 14: World Sight Day is coming up, and I’m challenging everyone to make their personal and professional accounts 100% accessible that day (and every day moving forward, of course). Write alt text for every image and make sure your content doesn’t pose any obstacles for screen reader users.

October 14: Coincidentally, I will be speaking about accessible best practices for social media at Digital Summit Tampa on World Sight Day. This will be my first ever speaking engagement at an in-person conference, so I’m equal parts excited and nervous. If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, consider buying a ticket!

One Last Chuckle

I’m just now learning that the Effin’ Birds account adds alt text to its images and for some reason it made me chuckle. It’s probably the cursing.

Alt text: A woodblock print of a bird beside the text "motherfucker what the fuck”.