How to Make Social Media Wheelchair Accessible (Day 21)

This is day 21 of the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media. Yesterday I showed you a few Twitter strategies I shouldn’t have. Today, fellow SOB, Glenda Watson Hyatt will show you how to make your social media more accessible for people with disabilities.


Social 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 concrete 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 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;
  • And the list continues.

The good news is simple solutions can tear down these barriers, further enabling these previously silenced voices to be heard and to fully participate online and in social media.

This primer reading list explores web accessibility issue, and offers tips and tools for implementing solutions:

Have an accessibility-related question?

How to Make Social Media Wheelchair Accessible (Day 21)

Ask Glenda!

For ten years Glenda has worked with three levels of government, transit authorities and non-profit organizations to increase the accessibility of their websites for people with disabilities. Glenda blogs at Do It Myself Blog about various accessibility-related issues, including web and blog accessibility. She does all this by typing with only her left thumb!

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  1. Some really great points that need serious consideration, thank you for sharing Glenda. I feel slightly ashamed that there are issues here that I don't consider when writing my blog. I have some homework to do and lots of it!!

    1. Thanks Paul! No need to feel ashamed for not doing something you weren't aware of. Now that you know better, you can do better. Keep in mind that accessibility is not an absolute, but a continuum. Take it one step at a time; for example, add ALTs to images, then proceed from there. Let me know if you have any questions.

  2. Great info and some great tips here Glenda.

    I and really liked that you gave examples of some very simple things we can do to make our blogs more accessible.

    And I admire you for not focus on the adversities but rather search for the opportunities.

    That is something all of us can learn from.

    By the way it seems like the link to 'Social media – barrier or tool for inclusion?' is a dead link. Did not work for me.

    Cheers.. Are

  3. Thanks TwtrCoach! Web accessibility, like physical accessibility, need not be complicated. The most difficult step is “the will” to make a place or site accessible; after that, the rest is easy. With adequate accessibility, disabilities and adversities fade to the background and abilities shine through.

    Perhaps try the 'Social media – barrier or tool for inclusion?' link again. Maybe it was a temporary hiccup.

  4. Hi John,

    Sequence the loading of images on the site, i.e. use thumbnails at the top of the post (downloads first) and then larger ones after.

    This lets the content pour into the page when the image is downloading in the background.

    Adobe Flash is often guilty of hogging resources and freezing the download – push it further down the page and make it 'click to start' not start automatically.

  5. Reading this list, I was somewhat amazed that this topic is so seldom discussed–obviously very important. Thank you; great tips and additional resources.

  6. Reading this list, I was somewhat amazed that this topic is so seldom discussed–obviously very important. Thank you; great tips and additional resources.