Social Media and Accessibility

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Teaching with Social Media

Social media can be an effective pedagogical tool. Keep in mind that the University does not support social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The University’s Policy on Information Technology states:

The introduction and deployment of new information technologies must be aligned with the University’s mission and academic plan and the plans of the academic divisions. The design and implementation of new technologies should facilitate the enhancement of the curricular and co-curricular experience of students, and the teaching, research, and administration of the University.

Consult the University’s Guidelines on Teaching with Social Media before using such platforms.

Working with Text

There are several issues to keep in mind when working with text on social media platforms.

Hashtags

  • Use camel-case hashtags
  • For example, #NotAllFoxes or #NoTallFoxes instead of #notallfoxes

Emojis

  • Limit emoji use, which most screen readers cannot accurately read

Language

  • Generally, use people-first language
  • For example, “people with disabilities” instead of “the disabled”
  • At other times, disability-disabled affiliation is appropriate—language that respects a person’s preference to see themselves as disabled
  • For example, “the Deaf community”
  • Note: this topic merits further discussion and research. Practices around language and disability depend on contextual factors

Pronouns

  • Use gender-neutral pronouns
  • For example, “everyone” or “folks” instead of “men and women”

Working with Images

Three Types of Images

When working with images, remember to cite your images. Consult the University of British Columbia’s Directory of Image Sources and the Image Citation Guide to find and cite images.

The three types of images are informative, decorative, and complex.

Informative

  • Visual representation of the content
  • Provide a figure caption and an alternative text up to 120 characters

Decorative

  • Used for aesthetic purposes, such as borders or dividers
  • No alt text (alt=””)

Complex

  • Images containing substantial information such as charts, maps, or diagrams
  • Information cannot be conveyed in a 120-character alt-text
  • The purpose of the complex image should also be described in the main text

Two Types of Alternative Texts

The two types of alternative texts used to describe informative and complex images are standard alt text and long description.

Standard alt text

  • A short description to identify the image
  • Inserted in the code of an image via the “Alt Text” box
  • Can provide information about the location of the long description
  • For example: Bar chart comparing animals for fluffiness, friendliness, and innovativeness; long description available in footnote 12

Long description

  • Provides more details than the shorter alt text
  • Can describe data used, variables used, indicated trends, etc.
  • For example: This bar chart illustrates which is the best animal between wombat, quokka, and koala according to three criteria: fluffiness, friendliness, and innovativeness. Quokka scored higher on friendliness (4.4) than wombat (2.5), while wombat scored higher on innovativeness (4.3) compared to quokkas and koalas (2.4 and 1.8 respectively)
  • The long description can be in the same document or hyperlinked to a separate page

Social Media Guides on Image Accessibility

Refer to the specific platform guides for information about adding alternative texts.

Working with Videos

All users benefit from video captions, including viewers watching videos on low bandwidth or in noisy/quiet environments. The “Captions and Transcripts” resource provides a list of automatic captioning tools. Smartphone apps, such as Clipomatic, can also generate quick live captions.

Social Media Guides on Video Accessibility

Refer to the specific platform guides for information about adding captions.

Podcasts

Further Resources

Princeton University. (n.d.). Social Media Accessibility Guidelines. Digital Accessibility. https://accessibility.princeton.edu/policy/social-media

Queen’s University. (n.d.). Social Media Accessibility. Accessibility Hub. https://www.queensu.ca/accessibility/how-info/social-media-accessibility

Ryerson University. (n.d.). Tips for Making Social Media More Accessible. Accessibility. https://www.ryerson.ca/accessibility/guides-resources/social-media/

Yale University. (n.d.). Social Media. Usability and Web Accessibility. https://usability.yale.edu/web-accessibility/articles/social-media