Solutions in the works to make social media more accessible to those with disabilities, the elderly

(WZAW) -- With shelter in place orders still going strong in most of the country, usage of social media has increased. But for those with disabilities, understanding some of those social media posts can be hard.

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) promotes digital accessibility and inclusion for people with all disabilities. Globally, over a billion people live with some form of disability. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 2.2 billion people worldwide have vision impairment or blindness and an estimated 466 million people worldwide – 5% of the population – have disabling hearing loss.

Ahead of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Facebook’s Head of Accessibility Mike Shebanek joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 to share some useful tips on how to make your Facebook posts more approachable, so that everyone can easily understand them. These recommendations make navigating social media more attainable not just for people with disabilities, but many others, including the elderly.

“We’re working on some really advanced technologies to make our product even more accessible. For example, we’re working on things like computer vision that can look at photographs people post and try and describe them to people who might not be able to see them,” Shebanek said.

For the deaf and hard of hearing, Facebook is also working on things like auto-generated captions on uploaded video.
Some tips on how to make your Facebook posts more accessible include:

- Use plain language and shorter sentences as well as upper and lower case (instead of all capital letters) to make it easier for people with cognitive and learning disabilities to read.

- Capitalize the first letter of each word when you use hashtags. It’s easier to read and enables screen readers used by people who are blind to pronounce hashtags properly. (e.g. #BestFriendEver instead of #bestfriendever).

- Each emoji has a matching text description that’s spoken by screen readers for the blind. For example, this emoji ���� is spoken as “thumbs up.” Avoid creating emoji or emoticons with text (such as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). These are hard for many people to read or understand, and screen readers have difficulty describing their meaning.

- Add alternative text descriptions for photos you share, also known as alt text. These descriptions are necessary for people who rely on screen readers and other similar assistive technology when using Facebook.

· Include a text transcript with your audio recordings and videos.