Social Media Accessibility

Anthony McLachlan sits in the AMI master control room.

As social media platforms are maturing so are the features and tools available to make the media more accessible to people with all abilities. The social media team at AMI has been working diligently to use these tools effectively and take an inclusive approach to communicating over social media. We’d like to share what we’ve learned and how we’ve been implementing some social media best practices. Before we get into the practical side we’d like to address a few questions that we seem to consistently receive from our audience.

What is Social Media Accessibility?

Social media accessibility can be interpreted in many ways. AMI’s social media team looks at two main criteria for making our social media posts as accessible as possible.

  1. We use social media accessible tools and external apps from various platforms to make our posts available to as many people as possible.
  2. When forming the language for our posts we try to be as inclusive as possible.

Our approach is in line with AMI’s vision to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities representing their interests, concerns and values through all kinds of accessible media. Research and direct feedback from members of the AMI Research Panel guides all of our platform and content priorities.

Why is it Important for Social Media to be Accessible?

How can a social media post be truly social and inclusive when part of the population can’t access it? Although many social media platforms aren’t entirely accessible, platforms like Twitter YouTube and LinkedIn are prioritizing the importance of accessibility. Some platforms have created dedicated accessibility teams with a mandate to make it easier for users of all abilities to interact on their platforms.

How are Social Media channels Making their Content Accessible for People of all Abilities?

Find out what Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are doing to be more accessible.

Twitter Accessibility

Twitter has several accessible features that are making it easier for users with vision impairments to consume their content and create posts.

Twitter Image Descriptions

On Twitter’s website they explain step by step how to use their Twitter Image Description feature. They state “When you Tweet photos using the Twitter app for iOS or Android, or on twitter.com, you have the option to compose a description of the images so the content is accessible to people who are visually impaired.”

Follow us on Twitter @AccessibleMedia for the latest on AMI programming, local events that we're attending and accessibility services in your community. Plus, don't miss any updates from your favourite AMI original audio and television programs: @AMIaudio and @AMIThisWeek

YouTube Accessibility

Find out more tips and tricks on how to publish accessible content with AMI’s host Anthony McLachlan in our YouTube Accessibility video.

Read our video transcript summary on how to publish accessible content with AMI’s host Anthony McLachlan.

  1. It's an accessibility "Best Practice" to shoot your videos using Integrated Describe Video (IDV), otherwise known as Audio Description. 
  2. Short of that, add narrated video description to the post-production process. While both are great ideas for making your content more accessible, for the purpose of this how-to video, we are going to focus on adding Captions (or Subtitles) to your YouTube videos. 
  3. Assuming that you've already uploaded your video to YouTube by clicking on the UPLOAD arrow in the top right corner of the screen, in EDIT mode, you will eventually click forward in the INFO and SETTINGS tab, and after adding a Thumbnail, Title, Description, Tags, and PLAYLIST setting for your video, it's time to click forward to the SUBTITLES/ CLOSED CAPTIONS (CC) tab in the right-hand corner of the inner screen. 
  4. Always remember to SAVE your changes before tabbing forward. After a certain amount of time, usually less than 10 minutes for a short-form video, YouTube will Auto-Generate a caption file for your video. Every video uploaded to YouTube gets an Auto Caption file, as long as the CAPTIONS box is checked to "ON" in the Playback Advanced Settings, within YouTube. The Auto Caption technology has improved greatly over the last year, with YouTube claiming to have cut the error rate in half. The Auto Caption file is a great starting point for creating perfect video captions. 
  5. While you could create a new caption file from scratch or add it from a third-party caption service, using the Automatic Caption file shortens the process, and makes captioning available and inexpensive for all users, which is very inclusive. Simply click on the grey (Automatic) CAPTION bar; then click on the grey EDIT button in the upper-right corner. This allows you to alter the transcription over on the left, or the timings, which are underneath the video. The timings should be dead-on, but in altering the transcript, you get a chance to make sure your captions are error-free, grammatically correct, and that spellings of names, organizations, and places are spot-on. Remember, YouTube Auto-Generated Captions are great, but not perfect. Someone always needs to double or triple check them before hitting PUBLISH. Once you're done altering the timings and transcript, SAVE CHANGES, and watch through for any errors. Now your video is ready for PUBLIC consumption. 
  6. Remember, within the YouTube Caption Settings, found on the bottom right-hand corner in the Video Player, you can change the placement, size, and color for your captions; to meet your organizational, design, and accessibility needs. Just use the underlined OPTIONS tab to do so. And most interesting of all, from within the Subtitles Closed Captions tab, you can export your published captions to be used in Facebook. 
  7. Under the ACTIONS pulldown tab on the left-hand side of the screen, simply scroll down to "export" an .SRT file. The .SRT file will land in your "Downloads" folder, and with a little alteration in the naming convention, this an easy and inexpensive way to create caption files for your Facebook videos.

Subscribe to the AMI YouTube Channel to watch our latest local video spotlights on your community as soon as their uploaded. We profile accessibility services and leaders from across Canada through stories told by local presenters in each of our regional bureaus.

Facebook Accessibility

Like our Facebook page to join the conversation in our most active online community as well as Facebook's Accessibility page for updates about new tools that will make the platform more inclusive for people of all abilities. Stay tuned for our upcoming how-to video that will give you step-by-step instructions for publishing accessible content on Facebook.

Instagram Accessibility

Members of the AMI Research Panel are increasingly using the social media channel Instagram, so we’ve responded by launching our own account. Learn more in our Instagram blog and follow AMI on Instagram to enjoy described photos from our production shoots and community events.

LinkedIn Accessibility

LinkedIn has focused on improving the interface and functionality of their website appealing to people of all abilities. They have recently updated their website and app to focus on making the experience as accessible as possible.

Read an excerpt from LinkedIn’s recent post about their focus on accessibility, including this quote from LinkedIn Engineering Manager Jennison Asuncion, who is also a member of AMI's Board of Directors.

“Q: What are you most proud of in your work at LinkedIn?

A: Three things come to mind: First, having our team involved in the new LinkedIn desktop redesign from the beginning. It wasn’t an exercise in course correcting, we were embedded with the engineering team from the start. Second, our collective efforts, specifically your work, Renato, in making the LinkedIn Android App that much more digitally accessible. You’ve really become the subject matter expert and before this neither Android or accessibility were your focus! And last but not least, being able to expose and teach engineers and designers, many of whom are early in their careers, about accessibility makes it more likely inclusion will become a natural part of the way they design and build products going forward. Having this opportunity makes my job, without question, that much more meaningful.

My goal is to continue generating interest in digital accessibility, as a set of skills and a mindset worth pursuing because it is a rare opportunity to truly make an impact in the lives of people around the world. If you’re reading this and wondering how you can get involved or learn more -- I’d recommend something as simple as visiting your favorite website and trying to navigate it with the keyboard alone, no mouse. If it doesn’t work, take a few moments to reach out and let them know their site is not accessible. Once you are aware of digital accessibility, it makes an impact, and it’s not something you will easily forget!”

Read the whole article about LinkedIn Accessibility and stay connected to AMI on LinkedIn for job postings and corporate updates.