Accessible Social Media
Social Media in Higher Education
Social Media has become prevalent in our lives, both professional and personal. Higher education has embraced social media as a way to promote programs and departments. We inform students, employees, alumni and fans of events and newsworthy information through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat allows us to broadcast the greatness that is Texas Tech University.
Making Social Media Accessible
But how does a person with a disability access this information on these platforms? According to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, "In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. The law (29 U.S.C. § 794 (d)) applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others." Since higher education departments/programs "maintain" their various social media accounts, it is our responsibility to make them accessible.
There are some simple steps to help make your social media much more accessible.
- In the biography and about section of your profile, include contact information for your organization, include your department number, website address, an online "Contact Us" form, or general contact email address for more information.
- Adding the following prefixes before tweets that have photos, videos, or audio, allows
people using screen readers to know what to expect before it's read out loud.
- Photos: [PIC]
- Videos: [VIDEO]
- Audio: [AUDIO]
- Place any hashtags or @mentions at the end of the tweet. A screen reader will voice the main content of the tweet, before thehashtags.
- Avoid the use of acronyms, abbreviations and text messaging shortcuts.
- Use "CamelCase" for multiple words for hashtags; that is, capitalize the first letters of compound words. Example: #WreckEmTech
- For photos, write descriptions in the comments section, or link to website where alternative text can be added.
- PDFs that are linked should have accessibility tags.
All these suggestions will help people with disabilities access the information on your website. The US Census Bureau states that 12% of Americans have a disability, specifically 1.8 million people 15 years and older report being unable to see printed words. Providing the above adjustments to social media can assist with reaching 12% of the population. For more information, you may access the websites in the reference section.
- Social Media Accessibility – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
- Accessibility in Social Media. SSB Bart Group.
- Federal Social Media Accessibility Toolkit
- Accessibility and Social Media. New Zealand Government Web Toolkit
- Accessibility and Social Media. Practical Ecommerce