May 15, 2019

GAAD Series - Let's Get Social!

The 'four walls' of our classrooms no longer conform to four walls. Educators are using social media to engage with one another as part of Professional Learning Networks (PLN), engage with students past and present, and even communicate with families and caregivers.


Tomorrow, Thursday, May 16, marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). Grant Wood AEA has been hosting a series of blog posts to celebrate this event and bring awareness to GAAD's purpose of getting people talking about designing online content and interactions that are accessible to a broad range of abilities. Yesterday's post focused on "Designing with P-O-U-R" and if you haven't guessed, today's post will focus on accessible social media.


Did you know the hashtag for accessibility is #a11y? This is because there are 11 characters between the a- and the y- in the word "accessibility."


We once again give a shout-out to the AEM Center and CAST for providing quality information to share. Mindy Johnson, director of Digital Communications & Outreach with CAST, is tasked with promoting and extending CAST's vision. She strategically utilizes a variety of social media platforms to do just that. In her 2016 AEM Center Webinar on "Best Practices for More Accessible Social Media", Mindy shares tips on how she promotes and extends CAST's vision while ensuring accessibility to her social media posts.


Our "Designing with P-O-U-R" post helps set the stage to create more accessible social media. Most social media platforms have been created to address the "O" in P-O-U-R. So, the charge of social media users is to consider the P, U and R: Perceivability, Understandability, and Robustness of the content shared. Mindy and her team at CAST have shared the image below to help guide users to post with integrity. Let's dig into each of these areas:


Social Media Accessibility: Plain Language represented by a speech bubble, CamelCase Hashtags represented by a # symbol, Image Descriptions represented by an icon of three people, Captioned Video represented by a video icon, and Link Shorteners represented by the WWW abbreviation.


Plain Language

Using plain language relates back to the U in Understandable. It is essential to make sure that we're using language-levels and reading levels that meet the needs of our audience. Also, making sure we're not using jargon when posting. And, spelling out acronyms and abbreviations will support plain language and make posts feel more welcoming.

CamelCase Hashtags

CamelCase relates to the P in Perceivable. CamelCase is defined as the practice of capitalizing the first letter of words in multiple-word hashtags. Have you ever spent what seemed like eternity attempting to decode a hashtag? Using CamelCase can support not only readers with reading difficulties, and readers using screen-readers, but also legibility for sighted people in general. For example:


  • #teacherappreciationweek becomes #TeacherAppreciationWeek
  • #runningoncoffeeandyogapants becomes #RunningOnCoffeeAndYogaPants

Image Descriptions

Like in other media formats, providing image descriptions relates to the P in Perceivable. We often see educators and other professionals adding text on top of images to share information. Remember, a screen reader cannot read that text, so placing it into a description is essential. And sometimes, the font being used in that text is simply hard to read, so added image description can help add clarity for sighted people as well.

Captioned Video

If your video isn't captioned, it's not being watch on a social media feed. Captioned video, again, relates back to Perceivability. Even if you create your own short clips or videos, be sure to add closed captions.

Link Shorteners

Link shorteners are helpful to cut down on distraction in a post. Whether you're sighted and reading the text or using a screen reader to access the text, a long url can become quite a barrier to ensuring the message in your post is relayed. Our first GAAD blog series post could be shared like this

Or like this


CHALLENGE:  Tomorrow is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Grant Wood AEA challenges you to ensure your next social media post is accessible. Be sure to add the hashtag #GAADChallenge and #GWAEA to your post.


The AEM Center is hosting the webinar "Best Practices for Accessible Social Media" on May 21, 2019.


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Content created by Grant Wood AEA staff member Maggie Pickett and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. This Creative Commons license does not apply to third party content.

Category: The Linker