Join the conversation for change on social media accessibility

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Ok, we’re going to get really technical today! There are plenty of people who feel like our social media saturated world is very bad for human connection. I’ve heard folks say that when you connect online or through texting, it’s less genuine or meaningful than if you connect face to face. Hmm. Interesting, but no. What about people who are unable to connect face to face because of the following:

  • lack of accessible, affordable transportation
  • inability to handle certain environments due to fatigue, sensory overload, anxiety or other reasons
  • annoyance that every time you leave your home, you will encounter strangers who invade your privacy or harass you because of your perceived disability
  • lack of access to adequate seating or space options or general accessibility in places where other people want to meet
  • not knowing anyone in your immediate area with whom you relate well, are comfortable around, and feel safe
  • and really, a variety of reasons that make the pacing and control around interacting online more satisfying, accessible and rewarding than certain face to face interactions

It’s really long past time that we stop criticizing people for the ways they socialize and connect, and listen to them. What if we made the community–off the computer and virtual–more accessible? And the above list relates to work too, not just socializing. So here’s this!

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the National Council on Disability are making an online town hall dialogue called “Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion in Social Media — The User Experience.” The virtual town hall dialogue will look at accessibility barriers that people with disabilities face when they use social media, whether it’s for socializing, looking for a job, or communicating around a job you have.

Monday, March 17th – Friday, April 4th

Register at http://NCD-ODEP.SocialMedia.ePolicyWorks.org and write in any time during this time frame.

Kathy Martinez is an assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. She says, “when social media is inaccessible to people with disabilities, it excludes a sizeable segment of our population.”

Janni Lehrer-Stein is a chairperson of access and integration for the National Council on Disability. She says, “Social media opens up a new marketplace of ideas and access for everyone, including people with disabilities, adding value and providing new opportunities through inclusive engagement in the virtual world.”

They want you to write in to tell them accessibility issues you have when you use social media. And the creative ideas you’ve thought of that can make social media tools more accessible and usable. And vote on potential solutions.

The national dialogue is being coordinated under ODEP’s ePolicyWorks initiative. To register, visit http://NCD-ODEP.SocialMedia.ePolicyWorks.org. I haven’t tried it out, but I bet this website will be ultra-accessible so that they really can gather your thoughts and ideas!