#20: April 2022
Social media can make everything so annoying.
I’m not going to talk about it.
I’m not going to talk about it because I spent a lot of last week talking about it and being upset about it and wanting to scream at people for being complete assholes about it online.
So I’m not going to talk about it.
What I will say is that a lot of people need to reassess how they think about disability and how they discuss it. Not every disability is obvious or visible. Not everyone with a disability discloses that they have one. A lot of people would rather not talk about their disability, and if they’ve previously talked about it, that certainly isn’t blanket permission for anyone else to talk about it.
Personally, I hate talking about how I’ve been dealing with an extremely limited sense of taste and smell for 15 years now which means I can’t always tell when food has spoiled and has resulted in food poisoning at least twice. I hate talking about how mortifying I still find my articulation disorder and work very hard to mask it in my day-to-day conversations. I hate talking about how the hearing in my right ear degraded to the point that my friends in college would comment on the fact that I essentially watch television sideways, which made me hella uncomfortable.
I hate talking about all these things, but I’m talking about them now because I need more people to understand that disability isn’t black and white. Disability is a full spectrum of possibilities that will affect each and every one of us at some point in our lives either through age, illness, or injury.
So stop being an ableist asshole and think your fucking words through a few more times before you spit them out or turn them into a meme that no one wants. I know that’s asking a lot of the internet, but just try. Please.
PS: if the meat of this newsletter feels shorter than normal, it’s because one, it’s going out on time, and two, I was offline a lot more in March, so I probably didn’t bookmark as much content as I normally do.
News and Updates
Troy Kotsur wins Oscar for CODA performance
Mr. Kotsur’s win at the Academy Awards last week marked a historic cinematic moment as he became the first Deaf man to be awarded a statuette in an acting category. He’s only the second Deaf performer to win an Academy Award as well. His CODA costar Marlee Matlin was the first after winning Best Actress in 1987.
In addition to Mr. Kotsur’s win, CODA also won Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture, becoming the first film starring predominantly Deaf actors to win in the latter category. The film will also be adapted for a stage performance by Deaf West Theatre, which is very exciting. Congratulations again to Troy Kotsur and the entire cast and crew of CODA on the amazing night at the Oscars!
Twitter makes accessibility more visible
It makes me so happy that my favorite child, I mean platform, continues to work towards making the online experience accessible for everyone. Twitter has started beta testing a public alt text badge that displays the image description someone has added to the images they tweet.
I’m part of the testing group (thanks, Twitter!), and I love this feature for a number of reasons. One, it makes it way more obvious who’s writing alt text and who isn’t. Second, the feature is a great learning tool for anyone who wants to get better at writing alt text because now you can easily see what others are writing. And lastly, I’ll hopefully get less people asking me how to see alt text on Twitter.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Twitter continues to develop this feature, as well as alt text in general, which it seems to already be doing through the translation function. Progress, we love to see it!
White House hires full-time ASL interpreters
Count me as one of the many people who didn’t know the White House didn’t employ full-time interpreters, a fact that was recently rectified. Thankfully, the White House now has two full-time American Sign Language interpreters to help make messages from the president accessible to a larger audience.
Representation matters, especially for children
Diverse media is incredibly important to the emotional and mental development of children, so it was nice to see Sesame Street add Ameera to "Ahlan Simsim," the version of the popular show that airs in the Middle East and North Africa. Ameera is a big fan of science, basketball, and making jokes. She also has a spinal cord injury and uses a wheelchair or forearm crutches to get around.
Accessibility fails at the Oscars
I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t expecting more than a few inaccessible moments at this year’s Academy Awards. Despite the fact that disability and accessibility were popular topics leading up to the big night in large part due to the film CODA, there were still a number of face-palm moments that were disappointing.
Missing alt text
The Twitter account for The Academy got called out early in the evening for not adding alt text to its images. It then proceeded to oscillate between writing bad alt text and not writing any at all throughout the event. Frustrating and annoying to say the least.
Technical issues with ASL feed
The Academy announced it would have an interpreted feed for the evening, but sadly, it experienced a number of issues as did the feed on Dpan TV.
Interpreters not always visible
The above issue makes you wonder, “Why can’t interpreters just always be visible?” A lot of viewers asked that question. I mean, Hollywood knows that Deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers watch media that isn’t specifically about being Deaf, right? Right?
Shoutout to Sian Heder, the Director and Writer of CODA, for bringing an interpreter on stage with her for her Oscar acceptance speech. This is how it should have been for every single speech that night.
Bad coding move
Yeah, don’t do this. Disabling a user’s ability to select text on your webpage is a huge roadblock for accessibility. Personally, I highlight portions of webpage text because it makes it easier for me to focus on what I’m reading, and I’m sure that I’m not alone in that practice.
Lazy captions suck
As someone who turns captions on for just about everything because it’s easier for me to understand and process visual information versus audio information, I cannot expression how annoying it is when additional languages don’t get translated in the captions. I want to know what people are saying, that’s why I turned the captions on! Translate them!
Have you recently spotted a major digital accessibility win or learning moment on social media? Send it to me! I might just feature it in my next newsletter. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My inbox is always open!
I find some of the best tips, resources, and insights on Twitter from other creators and advocates, and I want to share them with you, too!
Take the above resource with a grain of salt. Scroll to the article I’ve linked in the Recommended Reading section to learn more about why these web accessibility guidelines from the Department of Justice aren’t as exciting as they could be.
Are you looking for an online community where you can learn more about accessible social media practices? Join the Accessible Social Facebook group! It’s dedicated to helping anyone working in social media, marketing, public relations, advertising, or communications learn more about digital accessibility in a friendly, safe community. All are welcome!
Longer pieces that are definitely worth reading and learning from.
Ken Nakata | Converge Accessibility
Bits of wisdom, thoughtful moments, and maybe a few pointed remarks.
Want to learn more about accessible best practices for social media? Make sure to visit the Accessible Social website!