I get asked to speak at conferences more than I expect is usual. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with amazing audiences and meeting the other wonderful speakers. Some of the most rewarding conferences are those that focus on integrating the whole community into disaster response. Talking about disasters and social media to a group of vision impaired, deaf, physically challenged folks is awesome. First of all because I get to hang out with them all after I’m done speaking, but also because of the unique challenge we’re all presented when trying to make real whole community plans.
I’m also lucky because I get to talk about social media, which is almost custom made for accessibility.
Think about it. If I need to push information out to a community in an emergency, what other medium can I use to push out captioned video, audio-only, text (automatically translated, if I need it) and static images all at once? Whatever your answer to that question, surely it won’t allow all of that to be transmitted to dumb boxes in every home, purse and pocket. And if folks aren’t tuned to your particular broadcasting node, the messages are easily forwarded by friends and family.
As great as it, there’s still a long way to go to make social media truly accessible. Last week, Google took a big step toward fully embracing accessibility. Among other changes, there’s this:
As for the Hangouts interpreter app, Google says that it will allow those who prefer sign language to “invite interpreters to speak and sign for them during hangouts.” The live video from the interpreter will always be visible in the top-right side of the window.
Now that you’ve read that, doesn’t it make total sense to do this? We really live in a cool time.