January 23, 2010

How to make social media ‘wheelchair accessible’

Parking for handicapped

This is part of the series the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media.

John HaydonSocial media gives voices to individuals marginalized and ignored by traditional media, enabling the world to hear these voices for the first time in history.

However, as in the physical world, the online world poses many barriers to people with disabilities:

  • Images without text equivalents (ALTs in html lingo) are inaccessible to individuals with vision impairments using text-to-speech screen readers.
  • Video and audio without captions or transcripts are inaccessible to people who deaf and hard of hearing or to those who don’t understand the speaker’s accent.
  • Hyperlink text that blends in with surrounding text (or that isn’t underlined) are difficult for people with low vision to spot.
  • Short, one-word hyperlinks are difficult for people with limited hand function to click on.
  • Flickering and flashing images and animations can cause seizures in some individuals.
  • CAPTCHAs, images of obscured letters and numbers designed to separate the humans from the robots, are “Do Not Enter” signs for those who are blind and are confusing for those with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.
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