Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Social Media and Accessibility

There is no denying that social media has become quite a hit in the online environment. Social Media sites are a great opportunity to stay connected with friends and meet new people. The very definition of social media is all about, you guessed it, being social! Let's have a look at some examples (the wording has been changed to make it a little easier to understand):

• Social Media are a variety of user-created works, including video, audio, text and/or multimedia that are ‘published’ and shared in a social environment – Capilano University

• Social Media are internet/computer tools that allows individuals and groups to create and exchange content as a means of communicating with peers – Bottle PR

• Social Media defines the various activities that join together technology, social interaction, and the creation of words and pictures – formicmedia

From even these examples, it is fairly reliable to suggest that Social Media is a term that refers to the creation of forms of communication in a social environment. IDEAS NSW uses a number of Social Media sites outside of this blog, inclusive of Twitter and Facebook.

But how accessible is Social Media? And what Social Media tools are out there that are really reaching the whole possible audience? Social Media is important and should be open to all, allowing people to avoid the barriers of time and distance.

I have found a very helpful document, the ‘Social Media Access Review’ from Media Access Australia and would like to share some of their findings in regards to six named Social Media sites, including: Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Myspace. Their findings were:

• Facebook: ACCESSIBLE.




(Check out the document for comments on each site).
It is great that Social Media sites such as these are starting to become more aware of the issues faced by people with disability online, but there should be a standard for ensuring that these sites really are for EVERYONE to socialise. It is not uncommon for people with disability to feel isolated in their own world, Social Media allows communication without that isolation.
Social Media is definitely not something to ignore, it is ever-changing and moving fast towards becoming a prime toll for socialising, however, there is still a way to go for these sites to really connect the dots and recognise the ways towards a new tomorrow, where accessibility is for everyone!

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