#15: September 2021

Disability isn't a dirty word

Two weeks ago, I started anti-anxiety meds. This is the first time in my life that I’ve taken any sort of medication to help me manage my mental health issues. I’ve been pretty open about the entire process on my personal social media, and have gotten several responses along the lines of, “Thank you for being open about this.”

It’s made me realize that there are taboo topics that shouldn’t actually be taboo. We’re taught at an early age that you shouldn’t talk about politics or religion—things that people can choose and give up—in polite company, but it goes unspoken that most people don’t want to talk about things like mental health, disability, sexuality, or race either.

We need to talk about these things though. We need to stop acting as if something that is inherently part of someone’s existence—something they can’t choose or give up—is off-limits. That sort of mentality gets people hurt or killed. That sort of mentality prevents people from getting adequate care. That sort of mentality divides and destroys people.

So let’s talk.


PS: Yes, I know this month’s issue is a day late…again. But yesterday was a holiday in the U.S., so I’m pretending that today is Monday.

The Good Stuff from August

Twitter Spaces Getting an Update

The bird app announced that the latest iOS release makes a few updates to Twitter Spaces including captions having a dedicated space at the bottom of the screen.

New Regulation to Provide Automatic Student Loan Discharges

This regulation from the U.S. Department of Education will provide more than $5.8 billion to over 323,000 borrows who have a disability.

University of North Texas Creates Inclusive Fight Song Video

I work in higher education, so this was definitely a win for me. The University of North Texas (UNT) teamed up with one of their Integrative Studies students to create an ASL version of their fight song.

Snoop Dogg Down With Captions

I love Snoop Dogg. No really, he is a delight, and I love that he actively listens to his fans, especially when they suggest something like captions. Thanks, Snoop!

Instagram Adding Text-to-Speech Feature for Reels

I love that Instagram is shamelessly copying features from TikTok without hesitation now. The text-to-speech feature on TikTok is great because it allows you to narrate your open captions.

Inclusive Olympic Swimming Moment

I did not watch the Olympics or the Paralympics, so I love that my friend Katherine tagged me in this post. Spain’s artistic swimming team tried to make their routine more inclusive by learning and including sign language. You can learn more about their routine on the Olympics website.

Hip-Hop Gets First-Ever Audio Music Video

Audio descriptions are becoming pretty standard for television shows and movies, but not so much for music videos…until now.

The Bad Stuff from August

I’m going to talk about two distinct moments for the Bad Stuff from August, the Twitter design update and the Lollapalooza interpreter who went viral.

Twitter Design Update Misses the Mark

Our favorite bird app decided to do a major design overhaul that involved a completely new font, layout adjustments, and color theme updates. These changes were all created with the intention of making the platform more accessible.

Unfortunately, the one-size-fits-all approach that Twitter took didn’t work for everyone. Many users complained about migraines and difficulty reading the new typeface, making it obvious that the platform hadn’t thought through their redesign enough. The disabled community was quick to suggest that giving options for things like colors, fonts, and contrast would be a better way to make Twitter accessible for everyone, and I’m 100% in agreeance.

Viral Interpreter Sparks Audist Reactions

Did you catch all the buzz about the interpreter at Lollapalooza who went viral after a video captured her signing Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP”? I admit I was one of the many, many people whose immediate reaction was, “This is so cool.” I had it quickly pointed out to me that this sort of reaction is in fact audist. The interpreter is simply doing her job, and gawking over someone signing is actually offensive. It’s a language, a form of communication, not something meant to entertain people.

What’s more is that so much focus was put on the interpreter and almost none on the actual signing or who created it. Hint hint, it was a Black woman named Raven Sutton. Sutton has created several ASL covers of popular songs, which you can check out on her YouTube channel.

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 hello@therealalexa.com or you can DM me on Twitter. My inbox is always open!

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 and insightful reads made me immediately stop scrolling. Hopefully, they get your brain fired up as well.

One Last Chuckle

Captions failing isn’t really a laughing matter, so hopefully, this one was easily fixed by reloading the video, but I can’t help it, I got a chuckle out of the screenshots this user tweeted. It feels oddly appropriate that GASPS would be the only caption showing up for Sense & Sensibility.

Secrets, secrets are no fun unless you share with everyone! This logic also applies to newsletters and your Netflix login.