Accessibility still a problem when it comes to social media

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Media Access Australia has released its second review on the accessibility of social media.  The findings suggest that “people with disabilities still face significant challenges in gaining access to social media tools, despite recent innovations to improve access”.

There are many reasons behind why people use social media; it generally involves the need for users to be creative, modify, and share content in a particular situation.  The types of social media and the particular situations they can be used in can be in the domain of personal use, work use, entertainment, provision of goods and services, and education.   While there are many reasons and benefits for the general public on the usage of social media, the effect it may have on people who have disabilities can be more profound.

These effects are described in an article by the BBC Ouch! Blog,  Social networking, the disabled view.  The article discusses how social media provides an avenue of participation for those who have disabilities as well as providing a means of communication.

For the updated research, consumers with disabilities were asked for their feedback as to how they can benefit from social media, which tools they use and what information they perceived to be most useful.   In total, 49 participants participated in the research, ranging in various types of disabilities, age, and social media use.  Responses were either received via email or Twitter.  Most of the participants commented on the fact that social media is highly advantageous.

However, the review says that in practical terms, while most social media tools has some level of accessibility currently present for users with disabilities, there are still many issues to be resolved.  Some of these issues include: lack of captioned video, lack of alternative text, and difficult keyboard navigation.  The review not only analyzes accessibility of social media platforms, but also the accessibility of computers and mobile devices.  In addition, the report also provides guides to help consumers navigate Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Though the report highlighted that there are still many problems to be resolved with social media accessibility, the report is a sign of encouragement for developers to keep improving and for consumers with disabilities to keep using these social media platforms.

I am currently a senior at Seattle University hoping to raise awareness through the blogosphere and several social media platforms.