Engaging with accessible social media (Part 2 – YouTube and Blogging)
While YouTube videos go viral across the globe, around 20% of Australians aren’t in on the joke. For the one in five Australians living with disability, accessibility to social media remains a challenge. And as blogging continues to grow as a means of providing a voice to ordinary people, a lack of accessibility for those with impairments undermines their ability to engage with such stories, ideas and communities. Yet social inclusion can be achieved by taking active steps to ensure access in the online world.
Man uses smartphone and laptop
To ensure effective communication with people who have disability, Media Access Australia has developed some useful guidelines for successful accessible social media – and here’s a brief summary on YouTube and blogging.
Beyond entertainment and music clips, video-sharing website YouTube is now a major information resource for educational content, corporate media and vlogs (video blogs). With over 1 billion users worldwide, YouTube provides a unique platform for organisations and individuals to engage creatively with their audience.
While the power of YouTube lies in its ability to convey messages through videos, for users with disability, accessibility remains a major obstacle. Disabilities can be visual, hearing, cognitive or motor related – yet all have the same effect of preventing active engagement with YouTube. Yet one of the most effective ways of addressing accessibility issues with YouTube videos is through captioning.
For users who are Deaf or hearing-impaired, captions are invaluable by providing text versions of spoken words and images shown on YouTube videos. For users with visual limitations, adjustable colours and fonts, help to overcome obstacles such as colour blindness and poor vision.
Conveniently, YouTube provides an automatic captioning tool when uploading videos. While the tool provides a great starting point, it uses voice recognition software which often results in inaccurate captions. As such, it is important to use an editing feature to ensure the accuracy of captions. Fortunately, there are many free caption editors available on the market, including Amara, which makes the captioning process easier for online video content. While captioning is essential for users with disability, it is also beneficial for other viewers, including those for whom the video language is not their primary language, as well as people with limited education, and those with a cognitive condition.
Blogs allow anyone to tell their story, but may be designed in such a way that prevents users from engaging with the narrative. Making a blog accessible to users with disability is beneficial to expanding your potential audience and it is easy to do. Simplicity should be a key consideration when choosing a blog layout. Limiting the number of columns and choosing a clear font ensures that users with assistive technologies can navigate your webpage or website freely.
When it comes to videos, hyperlinks should be provided rather than embedding the video, to ensure the preservation of accessibility features such as captions. Links should be labelled with meaningful descriptions – rather than just “click here” for example – so that screen-reader users know what the content is about and where the link will take them. To minimise confusion for people using assistive technologies, these links should go directly to the suggested page, rather than opening in a new window.
For more information on how to ensure that what you are doing online is accessible and meets WCAG 2.0 guidelines, you can check out the Media Access Australia services website, email the Media Access Australia team or call (02) 9212 6242. The team can assist your organisation with annual web audits, digital accessibility maturity assessments, document remediation, accessibility training and more. You can watch a short video on how Media Access Australia can make what you do online accessible. An Audio Described version of the video is also available.