Social Media for Humans

Accessibility and inclusivity on social media with Rebecca Thorne

February 13, 2023 Alexis Bushnell Season 3 Episode 2
Social Media for Humans
Accessibility and inclusivity on social media with Rebecca Thorne
Show Notes Transcript

What do you need to know about creating inclusive, accessible content? Thankfully I have marketing and accessibility expert Rebecca Thorne (she/her) to share her thoughts, tips and advice on making social media more accessible.

We discuss alt text, captions, transcripts and more, along with how to deal with the common roadblocks to creating accessible content like lack of time, knowledge and overwhelm.

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Voice over by Hawke Wood:

[00:00:00] Hawke: Hello, and welcome to social media for humans. The podcast that empowers you to do social differently, your host, Alexis Bushnell, and her guests discuss their experience of social media as business owners, users, and ultimately humans with insights and advice to help you find an effective and ethical strategy that works for you. Grab yourself a drink and join the conversation.

[00:00:23] Alexis: Hello? Hello. I am here with wonderful Rebecca, do introduce yourself, tell us who you are and what you do.

[00:00:33] Rebecca: Okay. So I'm Rebecca Thorne. My pronouns are she slash her um, and I'm a disabled accessible marketing mentor. And I help digital marketers, educators, and content creators to become more accessible and disability inclusive so that they can build more meaningful, respectful, and profitable relationships with disabled audiences.

[00:00:56] And so in practice, what that means is I run courses. I do one to one [00:01:00] mentoring and I also develop training about marketing, like to be part of other people's courses. And that's like the basics about me really.

[00:01:10] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. And I think cuz accessibility is something that I'm really passionate about as well.

[00:01:15] And I, I am never sure whether my sort of view of things is a little bit warped because I have kind of like my, my community now is very. People who are invested in accessibility, people who care about it, people who are interested in it. And so to me, it looks very much like the social media landscape and the internet in general is becoming more accessible, but I am never sure if that is an accurate representation or if that is just my sort of happy little corner of the internet.

[00:01:52] So what do you think? 

[00:01:55] Rebecca: I mean, I definitely think things are improving. I think. In a weird way. The [00:02:00] pandemic kind of has actually helped in the sense, like, I think a lot of people have become like more like more people have had to work from home. So like certainly on the employment side of things, we are things from like reversing now, unfortunately.

[00:02:14] Um, but like, and I think more people have become aware of like how to do things online, which I think is something that we in the disability community kind of have been doing longer and have expertise on. And some of that I think has been shared more widely. And I think, I don't know. I, I think, I know, I think all the stuff that happened around racism that kind of had been like a broad, which was much needed and sort of all sort of happened at that time.

[00:02:42] I sort of fed into a bit of a broader inclusion movement. And I also think, like, I think like the ethical marketing movement has kind of helped a lot as well, because we've been talking about like, you know, how do you like sell to people respectfully and not just like, you know, message in a way that [00:03:00] makes people feel like they could buy stuff they don't need, or that makes people feel bad about the problems they have.

[00:03:05] And so I do think we're seeing progress. I don't, I don't think we are seeing like enough progress in some ways, like, I think some people. Some organizations do seem to seem, we can be like, oh, like be like, oh, you're all ethical and inclusive. And it's just like, well, your content actually not very accessible.

[00:03:19] So like, I don't understand how you think you're including everyone, but yeah. So I definitely think, I think we've still got a way to go, but I definitely think we're making progress. And I also think, you know, I think having you, I think the point you make is as someone who cares about accessibility, like you naturally gravitate towards people.

[00:03:41] Who care about that and who do that. And I think, you know, that is a reason like for businesses to sort of consider like, make like making accessibility a priority because it, it will bring people to you. I think. [00:04:00] I think one of the challenges is that I think some businesses still see accessibility as this like nice to have, and I'm not actually sure what some people think inaccessible content means because like it, you I'm sure.

[00:04:13] You know, and I know, and I feel many listeners know like inaccessible content. It's basically like people can't access your content. Or people are gonna find it very hard to access your content. Um, so I don't like a lot of people do like many people do seem to leave it on their to do list. For quite a while.

[00:04:31] Um, yeah. And yeah, so, so like there is that like, look, people literally can't access content and like, maybe you should do about something about that. But I do also think there is the like, you know, depending on like what stats you listen to, like they say, disabled people are like 20, 25% of the populations that like one in five, one in four people, which is a lot.

[00:04:53] Like, obviously not all disabled people, face barriers to the same barriers to access in just digital content. [00:05:00] Um, but it's still a lot of people and I'm not sure where I was going with that, but like, yeah, I think it is an important thing and it's, it's something I'm seeing become more a thing. But I think where we need to get to is to a place where like, at least in marketing, like accessibility becomes a bit like SEO.

[00:05:17] Like, it's something you do to your content, like help more people to help more people be able to engage with it and to help it reach more people. And like, it's not something where people are like, do I even have time for this? Or, oh, like, I've gotta learn and kind like, I, I think the other issue is that actually.

[00:05:38] We're not like you teach accessibility as part of how you teach social media. And I'm seeing more people doing that now, but like not everyone is doing that now. And a lot of the people who were like out there, like creating content now learnt at a time where accessibility was not taught. And so. have kind of had to figure it out on their own and like do further [00:06:00] training.

[00:06:00] So like that, those are the other things I want to see happen. I want accessibility to become like, just part of everyday marketing, which hasn't really happened yet, like on a wide scale. Um, and I'd like to see like, you know, accessibility be part of marketing training, which as it, like, some people are doing, like, you are an example of someone who's doing it, but like, I don't think enough people are doing that yet.

[00:06:23] And I think actually getting to people. When they're learning and just having accessibility be part of a process, I think is what is gonna make a big, like long term sustain sustainable here. So like, I guess that's a very long way of saying, I think we've definitely made significant progress, especially in the last years, but I think that's a long way to go.

[00:06:44] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Actually, it's interesting. You mentioned SEO because something that I have seen happening, especially since Twitter released their updated alt text option. Now for those who don't know, Twitter's alt text is now. Like [00:07:00] it is visible. There is a little button that says that there alt text before an image.

[00:07:05] Rebecca: When I, when I used to use Twitter quite a bit, which like was like a few years ago, you actually had to turn it on in settings, which is not very helpful because then of course, people don't know to turn it on in settings. 

[00:07:19] Alexis: Yeah, that's now they, they have, I will say Twitter, they're trying. They really are trying with the accessibility side of things.

[00:07:25] Um, and they have updated their alt text relatively recently. Um, so that it is automatically on, uh, there is a, a sign on every image that has alt text and you can just press it and it will show you the alt text

[00:07:41] Rebecca: cool. 

[00:07:41] Alexis: The frustrating thing is that since this update there. A lot of, especially big brands who apparently think that alt text is just SEO and are using it.

[00:07:56] Yeah. Just using it to pop some keywords in. [00:08:00] And there are some sort of influencers, content creators who think it's a nice place to add a little funny joke for the, the people who do think to click it and aren't using it for accessibility purposes. And that frustrates me. I imagine

[00:08:19] Rebecca: Yeah, it frustrates me.

[00:08:20] I've got more sympathy for people not using it. Cause they don't know what it is for than for people who are like, let's put some keywords here because I do think actually, and I think that's the other problem. Like I have seen a lot of SEO. People like actually teach like alt text is for putting keyword in and it's not.

[00:08:38] And it is just like, I don't understand why you're teaching this because it's not actually accurate. And if you look at, like, if you Google about alt text now, like a lot of the big SEO sort of well known organizations like Yoast and Mars, and even Google have resources that say alt text is providing meaningful image descriptions, which is great, but the there's still [00:09:00] SEO.

[00:09:00] People look like I'm like, so alt text is for keywords and it's just like, no. If you can meaningfully get a keyword into a good image description, then cool. Go for it. But otherwise, no. 

[00:09:14] Alexis: Yeah, yeah. Definitely. Definitely 

[00:09:16] Rebecca: like it's okay to set, like have a picture of yourself and like include your job title if that's reasonably short

[00:09:21] and that's a keyword for example, but you know, you, you it's still like meaningful image description first. Anything else is secondary. Mm. 

[00:09:31] Alexis: Yeah, I do think some for some people as well. And I see this, especially in like the ethical marketing, ethical business side of things, people not using, especially alt text because they are so scared that they're gonna get it wrong and they're not sure how to do it.

[00:09:50] So they just don't do it. And I'm like, Just, just give it a go. Just describe the image. Like it sounds so basic, doesn't it? It sounds so simple to just be like, just describe [00:10:00] the image, but I feel like it's kind of, I'm one, these people, 

[00:10:03] Rebecca: you tell people that, and I'm like, I dunno what to do. And it's like, but okay.

[00:10:07] Let's say you're on the phone to someone like this is the example to the people. Like, I don't know how to [muffled] like let's say you're on the phone to someone one and you were talking about like, something that's going on, where you are like that person can't see you. So you're gonna have to, like, if you're talking about something physical, that's going on in your environment, you're gonna have to describe it to them.

[00:10:26] And like, if you were in that situation naturally, you would probably do that without thinking about it. And probably do that reasonably competently. Like at least most people I think would like do an okay job ish of job that, but like you tell someone, right. You wanna sit down and you wanna describe, and I think the issue with alt text is, like,

[00:10:45] people aren't necessarily going around seeing alt text all the time. Whereas we like, at least if you sit down to, I dunno, write social media captions, you can go and kind of look at lots of examples and okay. There's gonna be like varying levels of how good they [00:11:00] are. But like, actually, I don't think people like have access to alt text.

[00:11:05] Um, but yeah, just have a go. Is my advice just have a, like, I think people appreciate effort. Like that's the other thing, like I've got a lot more sympathy and I'll be a lot more likely to like, you know, stop and give someone a little bit of like drop them message or an email to give them like a little bit of advice.

[00:11:28] If I'm seeing someone having a go. Whereas if someone's just not doing it, then I think, oh, you're just not like doing it. And I, I think that goes with a lot of things. I think the issue is that I think sometimes people think about accessibility too much [muffled] . And like, sometimes I will see people in conversations being like, like people will be happily talking about something accessibility related in the group, for example, and someone will come along and be like, well, if you don't do this right, then someone could sue you.

[00:11:54] And it's just like, You're probably not actually gonna get sued. Like, [00:12:00] yes, it's a possibility, but like in the same way that like you could get run over by a car tomorrow, or there could be an earthquake tomorrow. Like most of the organizations that people deem appropriate to sue are like organizations that are like repeatedly not doing things that are causing big problems for a lot of people and where people have tried asked nicely and have met a lot of quite significant resistance.

[00:12:25] It's. An example of like an organiz, a situation where like, people felt that like suing the organization was necessary. Is that like early in the pandemic some of the big, supermarkets here in the UK messed up food delivery for a lot of disabled people and some people weren't getting appropriate access to food and the supermarkets just weren't

[00:12:50] responding to that, that issue. And so people tried a variety of approaches and then it got to a stage where a group of people decided that like taking legal [00:13:00] action against the super markets was an appropriate course. But like, that's the sort of situation in which like you would sue an organization over accessibility, 

[00:13:09] Alexis: really.

[00:13:09] Rebecca: Like it's not, you got some alt text wrong. And I think like, yes, there are laws about accessibility and yes, you should follow them in the way that you would follow GDPR or whatever. But I think thinking about accessibility from a compliance perspective is like not helpful for most people, especially most small ish businesses.

[00:13:27] I think you've gotta think about it from like a doing good and a, well, not even a doing good, but being inclusive and welcoming and like helping people to access your content and like being able to engage and reach more people. Perspective rather than, um, a legal compliance perspective and like, yeah, I think having a go is a lot better than doing, nothing and people, people appreciate and respect having a go because I think the other thing [muffled] is that, like, we are all aware that there's not enough education about this kind of [00:14:00] stuff.

[00:14:00] And a lot of people genuinely in good faith don't know what they're doing, and they're just doing their best. Like I, we are aware of that. Like, so I say, I don't think people are going into alt text. People are going into reading alt text, trying to get a sense of what images we're not like, oh, I don't know. Gonna be mad if you've like, describe something slightly clunkily 

[00:14:22] Alexis: I think because i, I tend to initially when I'm trying to talk to people about alt text or accessibility generally is, is to go in with the compassion aspect and they like, you know, Do you want people to be able to engage with your content?

[00:14:37] Do you want people to see it? Do you want people to know that they are included and welcome, but I do find that there is, for some people you kind of have to go in with like the, you will reach more people, you will make more sales. 

[00:14:53] Rebecca: Yeah. I do actually feel really weird talking about, I mean, Something that I've had to [00:15:00] make a conscious effort, get better over the last few months, like to make more sales.

[00:15:03] My own stuff is like talking to people about that. You all make more sales aspect and it kinda feels a bit icky being like your content's not accessible. And you should do something about that because you'll making more money out of people like me by doing so. Um, I mean, it's not, it's true. Like there is good, like there is good solid research about that.

[00:15:25] But, like, it still kind of feels a bit weird, but yeah. Some people really do need that angle, unfortunately. 

[00:15:33] Alexis: Mm, yeah

[00:15:35] Rebecca: I do understand that, like, you're a small business or like, you know, you, you just like a, solo professional, you've all, you know, people like who are working in like charity or non profit for example, like you only have so many hours in day, there's only so much stuff you can do.

[00:15:51] Well, they, I, I think that is where it is actually about, like, you can make this part of the process. You can make slightly less but better content. Like there are things you [00:16:00] can do. And I think sometimes people get stuck in an excuse. Like I don't have time. Whereas what is actually going on is they're, they feel awkward.

[00:16:10] They feel discomfort, they feel overwhelmed. And so they're just like, oh yeah, I can't do this accessibility thing cause I don't have time. 

[00:16:18] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:16:19] And I do, I think overwhelm is a big part of it actually. And I think it's because people, especially the people who do care and they want to try and do it. There is this tendency to build it up in their head, uh, to this like big thing that like, I dunno how to do it.

[00:16:33] I'm not gonna be able to do it properly. What if I get it wrong? What if this, what if I put it in the wrong place? What if somebody says, what if somebody leaves a comment and says that I've done it wrong? What if, what if. And it becomes this like mountain job. That's just like completely overwhelming.

[00:16:51] Rebecca: Yeah.

[00:16:52] Alexis: And then it feels like it's gonna take you three hours to write alt text for one post, but actually, maybe initially it [00:17:00] takes you 15 minutes to figure out what you wanna express, but the more you do it, the more you find your own sort of flair with it as well. And your, some of your personality comes out in the alt text and you get to know

[00:17:14] what is relevant and what you want to express and how you need to phrase it and this kind of thing. And so it becomes just another, another part of your caption, another part of your workflow. And it doesn't it like, it's not this hugely time consuming thing to create. And I think that's something that people don't understand that actually it's not a really long process.

[00:17:39] Rebecca: Yeah. Like some things are a bit longer, like for example, doing a transcript or some captions, but then, and I think the other thing is it's, it's knowing like about certain tools you can use for. So for example, if you put it into YouTube, YouTube will give you a draft and then you can edit, or you can also use a tool like Otter AI.

[00:17:58] And it's also thinking about stuff. Like, [00:18:00] for example, you've just transcribed a podcast. Congratulations. There's lots of like, like you've just given yourself a big resource. It's like gonna be easier for you to go out and pull quotes for, from, for social media. So like you, you can save your time, yourself, time, in other ways, give you clever abouts and these longer jobs.

[00:18:17] Um, and I think it is just getting through that overwhelm and like picking something and starting whether that's, I'm gonna write alt text, I'm gonna check the contrast of my images. I'm gonna make sure I'm always using a readable font and like, actually with something like using a readable font, it's just a case to pick it once and just using it a lot.

[00:18:37] Alexis: Yeah. 

[00:18:37] Rebecca: And so I think, you know, that there are resources. Like I do have like resources that I give out for free when people join my newsletter, for example. Um, and like one of them is like a webinar and guide, like take through for like how you wanna be accessible. Let's talk about some of the things that you get in your way, like time and overwhelm and lack of access to information.

[00:18:59] [00:19:00] I'm like, let's help you pick somewhere to start. Um, and so like there are resources out there that can educate you. I think it's the case of like finding the right people to follow. Um, and yeah, it is just having, it is about it's about having you go and getting started and once you get started, it becomes easier.

[00:19:19] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah, it definitely does. It definitely does. And I do think with the rise of video at the moment, and so many social media platforms pushing video, I kind of wanna talk to you about like auto caption.

[00:19:36] They are obviously a lot faster than editing your own captions or even writing your own captions. Um, and I, I, they're not as bad as they used to be. What are your feelings on auto captions on the various different platforms? 

[00:19:55] Rebecca: So I think my general feelings are like auto captions are better than no [00:20:00] captions, but, and especially if you're doing something live, if you don't have the budget to have like a person come and do like live captions, like I do kind of think bigger organizations, like, I'm sorry, if you've got the budget to have someone do live captions, have someone do live captions.

[00:20:15] Um, Like for smaller organizations and independent professionals, like, you know, if you're do something live, stick auto captions on, and then ideally go back and edit them after. Or if you're doing something like a podcast, like, you know, use your auto captions throughout, because unless you have like an unclear accent or something like that, like it's, it's gonna give you a first draft.

[00:20:42] And I think some platforms are better than others. And so it is, and I think different people have different opinions about which ones are better. And I think some of that is about them picking up different types of voices and people's preferences 

[00:20:58] Alexis: mm-hmm 

[00:20:58] Rebecca: so I definitely think like, you [00:21:00] know, if you try at all, when you don't like it, or you don't find it works, for you like try a different one.Just because something liked by lots of people doesn't mean that like, you know, a different one might be better for you, but yeah, I think captions, especially if you're doing something live, edit them, ideally, but yeah, like I think the first step is autocaptions a better step is edited auto captions. That's what I'd say?

[00:21:27] Alexis: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. 

[00:21:29] Rebecca: Like I said, uh, a few minutes ago, like. You like make the most of the content repurposing opportunities, but like, you're going through editing captions or you, you you've got like a transcript or something like that. Like pull out from bits. You can use a text post so that you are saving yourself some content writing time.

[00:21:47] Alexis: Yeah. And it is something that people don't realize a lot of the time, I think is that because one of the big pushbacks that I get is firstly, I just dunno what I'm doing and I don't wanna get it wrong. And then secondly, [00:22:00] I don't have enough time. It's too time consuming, but actually, like you say, in, in a lot of areas, it can actually save you time when it comes to repurposing content and stuff like that.

[00:22:11] Because if you have those captions as a transcript somewhere, it is so much easier to just like you, you can even search them for like a quote that you want. Or if you want a quote about a specific topic, you can just search for that topic to find where it is in that transcript and grab it and post it.

[00:22:29] So it can save you time in the long run, even if there is a time investment in editing the captions and stuff like that. 

[00:22:38] Rebecca: But I think the other thing is like with the tech it's about, as we said, it's about learning. It's about having a go it's about, you know, with a lot of how to use, I don't know, YouTube auto captions, for example, like if you Google something like that, like there are lots of tech tutorial websites there to help, like

[00:22:58] hold your hands [00:23:00] the first time. And you can, you know, if you're doing something on you, like, like most people have a phone and a computer. So actually it's a perfect opportunity to like, get a tutorial from one and do the thing on the other. 

[00:23:11] Um, you know, cuz there are, and like something specific, like how to set up like auto caption, how to set up caption for like Facebook live, like Google will have a tutorial for that.

[00:23:23] Like, I feel fairly confident sitting here saying that because there are a lot of like tech websites that like live to provide that kind of content so that they can like make money from us or however they make money. Um, so yeah, I think like have, and I, I think as you say, like, imperfect is better than nothing.

[00:23:42] No, one's a hundred, no one, no one gets everything a hundred percent, right. Like there are things, that I learn semi regularly you know, like I teach you stuff, like I think. I don't know. I think people, I think this is like a situation where like perfectionism comes in for people a bit and [00:24:00] it's like, oh, but I have to get it.

[00:24:01] Right. And it's like, like, do like progress is better than nothing..

[00:24:06] Alexis: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. The other thing that the internet is determined to automate is actually alt text and Facebook's. Um, I don't wanna say latest update cuz I do not have it yet. So. Currently rolling out potentially coming soon update, um, is trying to hide the option to add your own alt text, uh, in favor of their automated version.

[00:24:34] Rebecca: Oh that's really annoying because actually their automated version is like not very accurate.. 

[00:24:39] Alexis: It is so bad. I, I mean, my personal opinion is that automated alt text is so much worse than automated captions because. Like the, I mean, if, if, if you have never read not you people listening, if you have never read automated, alt text, I, [00:25:00] I encourage you to go and have a look, uh, go upload something to Facebook, go into the edit image thing and, and it will show you in the alt text section, what it suggests that that image is of.

[00:25:12] Uh, and it is,

[00:25:15] Rebecca: interesting. 

[00:25:15] Alexis: Interesting. Yes. I especially love that it even opens with maybe an image of, 

[00:25:24] Rebecca: yes, 

[00:25:24] Alexis: because even Facebook 

[00:25:26] Rebecca: They're almost covering themselves little bit. It's like maybe an image of like trees and outdoors and like, you've got no there's people in this image and they're doing something, but yes, Facebook. Okay. I get they're outdoor and maybe there's some green in the background ground, but like, yeah, no, it's not super accurate.

[00:25:41] And, or it'll be like maybe an image of text it's. Well, that was helpful. I would quite like to know what the text says and sometimes, yeah, it is very, it is very hit and miss I think images of texts are like another one where people don't, I don't think people, people, I think some people could go, yeah, it's text.

[00:25:59] So [00:26:00] people can access it and it's like, no, like obviously on some platforms like you need. To put images of text, like you, you kind of title in the image to like catch people's attention, but like also having in the alt text and the like at the start of the post is helpful because like, well, people. like screen readers. Don't do very well with images of text either.

[00:26:23] And depending on how good your contrast in your font is, like when you put text in image, you're limiting how much people can use their own settings about what font is being used and what contrast is being used. And so on and so forth um, because it's, it's an, an image so it's like harder to, for like magnificat- like not so much maginfication but like software that like alters the like text, color, and size and all that to like manipulate an image.

[00:26:52] So, yeah, and I, I don't know. I've seen a lot of that lately. Like I get. [00:27:00] Newsletters from a brand that I won't name and they've gone from not really using alt text or very inconsistently using alt text to now having their like bit at the top where it's like the sponsor. As two images,. One of which says in the alt text sponsor banner, the one below, which says information about our sponsor.

[00:27:18] And I genuinely read that and go and bear in mind that this is a bigger organization and a big organization that claims that the very into diversity and like they are in a lot of their content, quite into diversity inclusion, but it just makes me think, okay, you don't think I'm important unless, or relevant enough to advertise to that's very interest.

[00:27:40] Because that I, I think you're taking the time to go. Yeah, I'm gonna put something in your alt text. Its say, this is a sponsor. And like, this is information about the sponsor, but like you are exclude, like that's not useful to me you're you are excluding me. And like, again, I would care less if it was a little organization, but like it's not, I suppose what I'm trying to [00:28:00] say.

[00:28:00] That is yeah. Definitely have a go well, like with text, make sure you've got it somewhere. That's not in the image because I am seeing a lot of that. And even from like smaller, I suppose, cause I follow a lot of copywriter because like I started out as a blue dance copywriter. Um, and so I have a lot of copywriter, friends and connections, um, and people would be like, here's an example of coffee and talk about it.

[00:28:26] But like the coffee's in the image 

[00:28:30] Alexis: mm-hmm 

[00:28:30] Rebecca: and it's like, well, this content's not accessible to me. 

[00:28:34] Alexis: Yeah, Yeah. One tip I heard actually to, cause I do think a lot of people, like you say, don't understand the concept of like flattened images and how images work. 

[00:28:44] Rebecca: Mm.

[00:28:44] Alexis: And a lot of people think that if there is text in the image, it works like a text document or like anything else because there's text in it.

[00:28:51] But actually there is, uh, a if, if you are one of these people who does not, hasn't got your head around. If you try and [00:29:00] highlight the text on something and it doesn't highlight, it is not being read as text. It is not actual text. It is a flat image. That is not being registered in the same way that actual typed text is.

[00:29:15] So if you are stuck, like hop over to Instagram right now, see if you can highlight, find, find an image that has text on it and see if you can highlight it. You can't, because it is not text, it is an image and they work differently on the internet. Um, so yeah, it is so, so important to have the sort of text that is in the image.

[00:29:37] In alt text and preferably also in the caption, but something that I also is frustratingly preventative in that manner can also be the, uh, character limit on alt text, which varies dramatically across platforms. 

[00:29:56] Rebecca: I think that's where you kind of say image of text, like text [00:30:00] included in caption, like, and you sort of direct use the alt text to direct people to wherever you put the text.

[00:30:06] Alexis: Mmm-hmm. 

[00:30:06] Rebecca: So you can say, like, you can say like image of image of text, and then you can say like text in caption or text below or like something that's gonna tell them where to find it. 

[00:30:19] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. The way I tend to do it now is I tend to. Avoid using text in images, unless it is the text that is in the caption anyway, 

[00:30:32] Rebecca: mm-hmm 

[00:30:32] Alexis: so if I like on the social media for human's Instagram, I have a lot of, uh, like tip stuff go up and the tip is in the image as text, but then it is also in the caption because the whole post is just that tip kind of thing.

[00:30:47] Rebecca: Yeah

[00:30:48] Alexis: And then... . 

[00:30:48] Rebecca: Yeah. I do the same for Instagram because people like people, I, I did discuss with like the person who does my images about like, not putting images in text, but she was like, people need that text to visually grab their [00:31:00] attention. And it is like when they're cited. And so it is about balancing different people's needs. And that really, if you are having the text in the text, in the caption, then having it in the image as well is fine, but you are not leaving anyone out.

[00:31:13] You're giving people two ways to access it depending on their need and preferences.

[00:31:18] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. And I think this is another thing that you say actually is, is that there are people there that there are people who teach about accessibility, who say like, you should never use basically text on images, any kind of like Latin text.

[00:31:30] But I think it is difficult because on Instagram, especially for content to be shareable, it mostly has to be stuff with, with text on it at the moment. Like that tends to be what is performing. Is images that are text on them somewhere. And so there is that balance of, do you want your content to be shareable and, and reach a lot of people and how do you then make that accessible?

[00:31:57] And so I think there has to be an understanding [00:32:00] of, is it, it is not ideal to have text on images, but you can make those images which have text on them accessible so that you, you get the best of both worlds. Basically. 

[00:32:13] Rebecca: I think sometimes the issue is that actually some of the people who were teaching accessibility don't have marketing knowledge and experience and like.

[00:32:23] Like they, haven't got a marketing background. They've just got an accessibility background and that's not necessarily a problem, but actually when you're trying to teach people how to market accessibly, you do need to un- you do need to have both sets of expertise I think. Um, and like, as I'm sort of moving away from like marketing for other people, like I'm quite determined to like, keep the knowledge because, and like develop, like, grow that knowledge and skill set and like, Obviously, I'll still be marketing in my own business all the time.

[00:32:52] So I'll have that practical aspect, but I think it's so important that you understand both and that when you're looking at options for who you're [00:33:00] gonna learn from that you find someone that understands both. And like, there are people out there who understand both, but there are all sort of people out there who know a lot about accessibility.

[00:33:10] There's not what they're saying is wrong, but they just don't have the marketing knowledge and they just don't understand how to balance a similar one is that people say that you should never use emojis. And it's just like, well, emojis are helpful for people who are more visual learners, they make good bullet points.

[00:33:27] They, um, they're good visual communication tool. The issue is, When you have too many of them together, or if you have some of them, like in front key information, because some of them can take a long time to be read out. But like, I think with emojis Look at like most emoji pictures can like show you what the emoji is called and like, that's what will be read out.

[00:33:51] So, you know, if you, if you're looking at a post and you're like, I've got too many emojis, like. Read it through, but replace the emoji with whatever the [00:34:00] emoji's called. And if you think that would take a long time to say, then, like maybe cut back and like, maybe don't have more than like a couple of emoji of emojis together.

[00:34:08] Well, like something like using emoji bullet points or having an emoji at the end of your headline, like there's a reasonable thing to do. And I think, I think also sometimes. The thing is that some accessibility experts have like knowledge of one disability. Like the one I have. And so it's really easy for a blind person to sit there and say, well, emojis are a problem.

[00:34:29] And it's not, they aren't a problem. It's that actually, sometimes that person is not thinking about the people who are more visual thinkers who need them. And like, I think that's an issue. I do think when they're really broken down into disability categories. And we could benefit from like all talking to each other and listening to each other more like I'm like something that [00:35:00] I didn't really need to improve is that I've noticed.

[00:35:02] So like I've been blind my entire life. And so I've sort of known a lot of blind and visually impaired people for a long time and being quite embedded in that community as well as being like involved in disability community more broadly. But when I became chronically ill a few years ago, I got a lot of issues from people who were like not willing to be accom - like didn't understand.

[00:35:30] Not so much didn't understand what I was going through, but like, didn't want to like be inclusive of that set of access needs in a space that was predominantly blind people or felt that I should be doing stuff, but like other people who were just blind are able to do like, say for example, I had people be like, oh, you should be able to get the train there on your own.

[00:35:50] And I was just like, I'm not well, like, no, that's not happening. And people just like, weren't respectful of that or like, [00:36:00] oh you're, you know, because it was invisible people being like, like not wanting to like stop and understand like the pain and energy impact of doing certain things or like, You know, like I've had, like, I've sort of, I've stopped going to a group that I used to go to quite a bit because people were just being very funny about the fact that like, I've moved to doing most of my socializing, like online, as opposed to going out to in person events, despite the fact that where I live, you kind of need to travel for at least, I dunno, half an hour to get.

[00:36:38] to places where they run a lot of the things I like used to do. Like I used to go to an in person writing group. I used to go to like an in person, group of blind people. And like, it was all, you know, a half an hour, an hour of travel each way. And so like now I will just go to something where I can log onto a [00:37:00] call and.

[00:37:01] I haven't had to do that traveling, which means I can go to stuff more often, but yeah, I guess what I'm saying is we need to become, I think we need to become more of a, um, I think more people need to be aware of like more pan disability, accessibility. And I also think within the disability community, we need to get better at like, Being aware of intersectional access needs of people with like multiple disabilities or just being aware that like, yes, we as blind.

[00:37:30] People need one thing, but like people like chronically ill people may need another thing. And like, sometimes if you've got like a bit of a conflict of access needs where like you've got people who need like these different things and those things, like don't quite marry together. Well, like coming up with creative solutions that like actually.

[00:37:49] Serve everyone like, like give everyone, uh, something that's as accessible as possible and not privileging one thing, because that's the other thing that I sometimes see [00:38:00] people say in communities about like visual impairment is like, I think some blind people think that their access needs are more important because they have a physical disability.

[00:38:10] Whereas they think some chronically ill people or neurodivergent people. Can just like tolerate something that's unacceptable. If it's like a sensory situation or a like pain cycle situation. It's like, no, I'm sorry, but like, you are not more important just because you have a visible disability or a disability that's more well recognized.

[00:38:32] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. And I think it's really interesting as well because from like my experience being neurodivergent and, and spending a, a lot of time in neuro divergent communities, certainly what I have seen is there is much more intersectionality and understanding. And I think part of it is because of how differently even the same diagnosis can present.

[00:38:58] Um, and there was a [00:39:00] Aaron Anne Sweeney did a really interesting video a very long time ago now, um, in it, he mentioned that, um, he was talking about ADHD and how, for for his ADHD, he really needs to have captions on videos, um, to be able to follow them. But his, one of his best friends also has ADHD and they cannot have captions because they cannot focus and take it all in.

[00:39:28] And I think it's really interesting when to, to consider stuff like that, because it is accessibility the way I kind of see it is optional is not the right word because, but what I mean is like, you need to like, give the options 

[00:39:43] Rebecca: Its fluid there's lots 

[00:39:44] of different people need lots of different things. 

[00:39:47] Alexis: It is it's fluid. That's a better word.

[00:39:50] Um, and so it is about making sure those options are available for people because you cannot, like nothing is ever gonna be a hundred percent accessible [00:40:00] for everybody because you can't, there are so many different needs. 

[00:40:05] Rebecca: Yeah. 

[00:40:05] Alexis: And some of them are in direct conflict because some people need this specific thing that other people find a problem.

[00:40:14] And so it really is about. Communicating firstly, with the people who are in your network and who are, if it's an event, the people who are actually gonna be coming to the event to find out what the needs are and, 

[00:40:27] Rebecca: and like actually feedback as well. 

[00:40:30] Alexis: Yes, yes. Which is something a lot of people struggle with because a lot of people do take it as an attack and as criticism.

[00:40:40] And actually we do need to be like everybody just in, in every capacity, really much more open to when somebody says like, Hey, this is inaccessible for me, Hey, I would really benefit from this thing to, instead of going well, I did my best. I dunno why you can't appreciate it, but just put up with it to [00:41:00] actually going okay.

[00:41:01] Uh, I will see what I can do about that. I will learn more about that. I didn't know. That was a thing. Do you mind explaining it to me.. 

[00:41:08] Rebecca: Yeah. Like, and that's much, I think people feel like they get defensive cuz they feel like they need to be right. And they need to have not done something wrong. But like actually being defensive just makes the situation a lot worse because you, you are closing a door by being defensive, I think.

[00:41:25] And like I've had whole conversations with people. Where it's been in a situation where like, I, I, I have like, I've needed to access something or like, I've not been able to like, sort of like, it hasn't made sense to like walk away from like the organization, whatever is going on where, and I think sometimes in bigger organizations, it is like coming from higher up and its organizational policy.

[00:41:46] Like I remember having a whole conversation, email. She was trying to make out that like accessibility of the, I like basically I couldn't access, um, like a workbook for some training that I was going on. Um, and [00:42:00] so like I had this whole conversation where like she was playing down my access needs, my request, and I spoke to this person afterwards and it turned out that when she'd been sending all emails, she'd been expected to send, but had also behind the scenes been like sort.

[00:42:13] Trying to actually get it sorted, but it's just like, if you'd have had a more honest and open conversation with me, it would've been much better, like for everyone and I would've respected and appreciated you a lot more. Like not got to a point where I felt like I needed to cut ties with you and the organisation like soon as possible because of just the way you were treating me.

[00:42:35] But like, yeah. I think people sometimes add without really meaning to a whole extra level of discrimination by turning around and being like, you should be grateful. And it's like, well, no, I shouldn't. Or you should be like, why can't you just put up with it? Well, cause it's not very accessible and. Yeah, I have a, like, I am quite especially [00:43:00] cause I like talk to people about this a lot and I teach this a lot and I see like how hard genuine is for people.

[00:43:06] I have a lot of respect for people trying. I have very limited respect for people being rude and for being people being rude to people about what, like the fact that accessibility is needed or trying to like downplay it or say that it's not important or like, be like when someone has gone out of that way to give you some feedback, like being rude about that.

[00:43:33] Because honestly, I understand that it's hard and it's, it's uncomfortable receiving feedback, but like responding by downplaying or dismissing someone needs, it's just not okay. Like there's no. Like, I dunno. I feel like I try to be empathetic about a lot of things, but like, I have a very hard time being empathetic about people being rude to people.

[00:43:58] who are trying to like give you some [00:44:00] helpful feedback. 

[00:44:01] Alexis: Yeah. And I think a lot of it comes down to like, we are just human, like all of us, and we are going to make mistakes. Like it happens

[00:44:11] Rebecca: Yeah

[00:44:11] Alexis: you are not gonna be perfect all the time. You know, sometimes you are gonna forget to put alt text on your image.

[00:44:18] Sometimes you are gonna forget to do the captions. Sometimes you are gonna not have thought about something because you either just forgot or you just weren't, it's just not something you were aware of at the time. 

[00:44:30] Rebecca: Yeah. I, I think that's the thing. Like, I don't think people, as we were saying earlier, I don't think people are expecting people to be perfect.

[00:44:37] I don't expect people to be perfect people, first of all. I don't even think there's such a thing as being perfectly accessible because like, as we've talked about, there's like such a wide range of access needs, but yeah, like usua-, and as I said, like, usually if I'm giving people feedback, it's cuz I'm trying to access something or I'm trying to be helpful.

[00:44:55] Alexis: Mm-hmm 

[00:44:57] Rebecca: and you know, it's interesting cuz I, I read a newsletter [00:45:00] few weeks ago, um, where someone was kind of saying they felt uncomfortable. Like, like they, they would try to get into doing the asking for accessibility feedback, but they felt uncomfortable about like, because they felt like, you know, they were like asking for free education of disabled people.

[00:45:20] But like, I think the thing that I think a lot of people don't realize about welcoming accessibility feedback is what you're saying. As long as you are genuinely open to having that conversation in a supportive way like we've just discussed is, you're saying that you are open to that feedback. And so I'm like when I think, oh, you know, I could email.

[00:45:41] So and so about this accessibility thing, if someone's welcoming accessibility feedback, it's a lot easier for me to do that because I'm not writing an email or a message thinking, am I gonna get like a really discriminatory response to this? Like, [00:46:00] I'm writing a message saying, oh yes, this person wants to learn about this.

[00:46:03] And they'll hopefully find this really helpful. .

[00:46:07] Alexis: Yeah. 

[00:46:07] Rebecca: And it's just a different experience. 

[00:46:09] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. And I think the other thing with asking for help or advice or whatever is the way I see it is very much that if you, and obviously if you are asking one person specifically and saying like, Hey, can you explain alt text to me, that's different, but if you are 

[00:46:29] like sending an email, putting a post up on social media, putting a post on your website in a Facebook group, whatever, and saying, you know, I really need some assistance with this. I wanna learn more about that. Can anybody help? Then if people don't have the capacity, if people don't want to, then they won't and maybe they'll, somebody will drop a link to, uh, like an educational resource that you can learn yourself or a class you can take or whatever you're not

[00:46:56] demanding the time and education of people you are [00:47:00] saying, Hey, I am looking to improve in this area. If you are able to help, can you help? If you have resources, let me know, et cetera. 

[00:47:07] Rebecca: And we actually all do this all the time. So a lot of people do this all the time about all sorts of random topics. Like, you know, I went into a Facebook group yesterday and was like, I've had a lovely testimonial come in, but like, I think I need to edit it slightly because of just the way certain things are phrased.

[00:47:28] Like, um, there's a bit in this testimony where the person goes from talking about me in second person from like, like you did this really well to third person, and I'm not entirely sure why, but anyway, so anyway, I had this thing and I went into a Facebook group and asked about it and like, I haven't been back and looked yet, but like, I'm sure people would've left lovely responded because this Facebook group is a lovely Facebook group.

[00:47:50] And so I guess the point I'm making is. We like online groups are a resource and like, they're there for you to ask questions. And so it's reasonable for [00:48:00] you to ask questions about accessibility. Where like in terms of asking for feedback with your own events, like what do people do a thing where they're running event or they run course?

[00:48:09] Are you asking people do this after a girls lunch? And they'll like, leave the, it was survey and people, if they've got a couple minutes are happy to fill in the survey and if they're not, then they don't have to do it. You, you are inviting people to give you feedback and then people will give you whatever feedback they deem appropriate.

[00:48:27] And so taking the time in the survey to have a question about accessibility, it just shows you're interested in learning and people will leave you whatever feedback they want to leave you.

[00:48:37] Alexis: Mm-hmm .

[00:48:37] Rebecca: And so you, you're not demanding information of people. Like I think I do sometimes get people. Especially like when I'm a customer from the organization asking questions where a bit like you should really be paying someone to sort out this problem, not expecting me as the customer to give you all the information.

[00:48:57] Um, but like that's usually [00:49:00] when you've gone to a specific person and have asked a question that requires quite a detailed response. Like I think that's when you get into territory of, and I think there's a balance and actually you've taken the the time to like go and learn some stuff. And then you are just welcoming feedback so that you can pick up on mistakes then, like that's usually good balance.

[00:49:22] Like you go out and you do your learning. Like you learn how to do your captions. You learn how to do your alt text, you learn how to do all these different things and then you can do a posts and you can say, cuz I think the other thing used, cuz people don't know about like there's still, people genuinely don't know a lot about accessibility. Actually doing a post about like what you're doing or a video about what you're doing.

[00:49:42] On social media is like a really good way to advocate for accessibility and build awareness. And so say, put something at the end about like, Hey, if you ever have any feedback or was there anything you think I can improve to make something accessible to you? Like, please let me know. And like, I, you know, I'll be happy to look into it.

[00:49:59] Like you, you are [00:50:00] just opening a door and you're welcoming in a conversation. You're not demanding lots of knowledge of people. And like, you've, you've done your homework and you've done some learning. And I think that's the important bit.

[00:50:09] Alexis: Yeah, definitely. I wanna ask before we, before we fin- this hour has flown by, well, [laughing],

[00:50:18] Rebecca: we have covered a lot of ground 

[00:50:22] Alexis: what if, if somebody is listening and they are brand new to accessibility, they're listening and they're like, wow, like accessibility's a thing I did not know that this was something I should be doing.

[00:50:34] What, what are the sort of three, three places they should start. 

[00:50:40] Rebecca: Okay. So I always recommend that people pick a place to start based on what they do, like what their job is, or like what their business is, what their main marketing channel is. Um, like something they're getting feedback on or something they're developing in their business and I realize that's four things.

[00:50:58] So like an example of that is [00:51:00] like, if you are a social media manager, Learning about how to make your social media accessible is a good start. So you can start with something like alt text, you can start with something like captions, so on and so forth. Like similarly, if you like, if you're trying to make, if you like your main content channel is that you make videos, captions, transcripts, good place to start.

[00:51:27] Um, and so if you're, something you are working on in your business is that you want to grow an email list, like making sure the signup process for that is acceptable. So like recaptures are a big accessibility problem. Some types of forms are, and a really like a good first step with email signups is to put a note on the form.

[00:51:53] That's like, if you're having difficulties, like, filling in the form or signing up, like email me and I can sign [00:52:00] you up. And like, you probably won't get lots of people do that, but again, you are opening an accessibility door and for the minority of people that are gonna have difficulties, with recaptures or might be having issues with your form for some reason, instead of them clicking away, you, you are giving them a way to still get in without having loads of faff, um, and to the last one about feedback, like if someone has given you some feedback about something they're struggling to access. Like that's someone who's already in your community and already like, like knows who you are and could benefit from your content.

[00:52:35] And so like starting, there can sometimes be a good thing. I like from a lot of these conversations, like you, I have a lot of conversations with people about these barriers. And so like, I actually have a resource, if you sign it for my newsletter, that's called your next step with with accessibility and it basically takes you through.

[00:52:52] OK you think accessibility is a good idea, but like you wanna actually make a realistic plan to work on it in your business. Like let's [00:53:00] guide you through that. And so like, that can be helpful for like thinking, okay, I wanna do this. How am I gonna do this? And the other thing I have is like a resource that goes through like a few basic techniques.

[00:53:12] So like, I talk like there's some image description tips. So like quite specific tips for like, how to figure out, what to say in the image description. There's like stuff on contrast and there's stuff on like understanding disability discrimination and like what that is. And so like, that's a good starting point and like all that is completely free. Like you just have to sign up for my newsletter. 

[00:53:38] Alexis: Fabulous. If, if people want to sign up for your newsletter or follow you on social media, anywhere else, where can they do that? 

[00:53:45] Rebecca: So my newsletter is like what I'm focusing on a lot, because I mean, it's less relying on algorithms and like I can email out people.

[00:53:54] Um, and so that's on my website at and the newsletter link [00:54:00] specifically is Um, And I'm on Facebook and I'm on LinkedIn. I am on Instagram as a visual recording, but I'm very actively working on moving off Instagram. So like Instagram's not the best place for me.

[00:54:15] My business is called Connect with Your Crowd. So I have a Facebook page for that. Um, on LinkedIn, I do have a page, but I do most of my stuff on my personal profile. And so my link for LinkedIn is linked i - And yeah, so Facebook and LinkedIn are my main social places and newsletter.

[00:54:41] And then I've got all my information about like all the work I do is on my website, as well as my social links are also on there at, you can click through to a lot of things on there. 

[00:54:53] Alexis: Fabulous. I will put all the links in the show notes as well, so people can go just click and, and go and find you very easily [00:55:00] and go and download.

[00:55:01] Join your newsletter. Get your fabulous freebies. Start learning about accessibility. 

[00:55:06] Rebecca: Yeah. Like, I mean, if you are new or even if you've like done a bit and you want to do more, like start learning and just start having ago are honestly the biggest tips. 

[00:55:15] Alexis: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that something else actually is. Even if you think, you know, lots about accessibility, keep learning, like don't get to a point where you think I am the accessibility royal. Like, I know everything. I am the expert. There is nothing left for me to learn. Cause spoilers, 

[00:55:37] Rebecca: that's just not true. 

[00:55:38] Alexis: There is always more 

[00:55:39] Rebecca: like I'm always learning, stuff, because I think you have to, like, I think being an expert in a subject does not mean, you know, everything. It just means, you know, more, a lot more than the average person.

[00:55:49] And it doesn't mean like being an expert doesn't mean that you can't say like learn, run training, or like, you know, do things to educate other people. It just means you don't know everything and like being [00:56:00] aware and conscious of that is important. 

[00:56:02] Alexis: Absolutely.

[00:56:03] Rebecca: I think. 

[00:56:03] Alexis: This has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for being here.

[00:56:08] Rebecca: Thanks for having me. It's been good fun. 

[00:56:12] Alexis: Good, good. 

[00:56:16] Okay. 

[00:56:16] Hawke: If you want more regular reminders to find your own way to use social media, follow Alexis on your social platform of choice, all the links will be in the show notes.. Until next time be a human.