Roberta: We had Media Access Australia talk to us recently about its new social media accessibility project which recently received funding from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.
The project is now in research phase and Media Access Australia is asking anyone with a disability, including people who are blind or vision impaired to share their experiences of using social media. We have online Communications Coordinator Eliza Cussen with us to tell us all about it. Welcome, Eliza.
Eliza: Hi, Roberta. Thanks for having me.
Roberta: Now first of all, can you just recap what we mean by social media?
Eliza: Well, social media is kind of a blanket term for online websites and applications which allow two-way communication. So if we think of media in the traditional model, you know, a newspaper or a TV station broadcasting to a large group of people, those people did not have an easy way to talk back. So social media is that two-way conversation.
Roberta: So what do you see as the main benefit of social media?
Eliza: It’s about, in the same way that we communication in our offline real world, we communicate online. So it’s about relationships. It’s about social interaction and most importantly, it’s about distributing information amongst our network.
Roberta: Can you tell us more about what Media Access Australia is currently doing to help people with disabilities get involved with social media?
Eliza: Well, Roberta, we’ve got a very exciting project going on at the moment. We’ve just called it the Social Media Project. I’m excited about it, the main reason that, well, what we’re doing is gathering information from the people who use social media.
So people with disabilities who are users, they’re actually the experts here. So we’re hoping to gather the knowledge that they have and collect it and through that, form resources to help others. So it’s really about collaborating and in the hope that we make social media more accessible.
Roberta: That’s a magnificent idea. Now, how can people who are blind or visually impaired get involved?
Eliza: Well, there are lots of ways. You don’t necessarily have to be completely savvy. You don’t have to consider yourself a social media expert to get involved because we’re hoping to get a cross-section of people. So the best way to get in touch is via our social media network. So Twitter is mediaccessaus, so a-u-s at the end. And facebook.com/mediaaccessaustralia.
Roberta: And this project, how long do you expect to be? Is it a three month thing, is it, you know …
Eliza: About three months, yeah.
Roberta: Now, that’s a good way of getting a good cross-section I think, isn’t it?
Eliza: Yeah. That’s what we’re hoping. We’re hoping that people, you know, from all backgrounds, from all range of ability and disability. So whether or not you use a screen magnifier or a screen reader or whether, you know, you’ve tried to use these websites and have had trouble, they’re all the kind of people we’re looking for. So you really don’t have to think of yourself as an expert to get involved.
Roberta: Oh, that’s …
Eliza: You really just have to be open to sharing what you know with others.
Roberta: Well, that’s good that you said that because a lot of people sometimes think that they need to be and they’re frightened to sort of contact.
Eliza: That’s it. And what I love about social media is that it puts everyone on an even plane. So, you know, you do get some people claiming to be social media experts and, you know, I really feel that no one can really make a claim to being above anyone else. We’re all feeling our way. We’re all learning as we go and that just makes it a beautiful democratic medium.
Roberta: Now Eliza, when will the information be released do you think? Can you tell us at this stage?
Eliza: Well, not at this stage. We don’t have a timeframe but it’s all happening very quickly. We’ve had a great response so far from the public so things will get rolling very soon.
Roberta: That’s really good. Now, if you’d like to contribute to the project or find out more, you can email email@example.com or, this is a new one on me, tweet @mediaaccessaus. That’s the one is it? Tweet @mediaaccessaus.
Eliza: That’s right.
Roberta: m-e-d-i-a-a-c-c-e-s-s-a-u-s by the 31st of August. So you’ve only got a few days to do that but I would really like you to do that because it is a great project and I want to thank you, Eliza, for telling us about it today.
Eliza: No worries, Roberta.
Roberta: Well, I’ve been speaking Eliza Cussen who is the Online Communications Coordinator for Media Access Australia and Media Access Australia are supporters of this program.
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