Social media is increasingly becoming the communication option of choice. Not only has it increased the number of outlets by which we all receive information and communicate, but the collaborative aspect allows people and groups to create, share, organize, edit, combine and distribute content easily. Forms of social media include blogs, microblogs, podcasts, RSS feeds, social media releases (SMR), social networks (e.g., MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn), web chat, wikis, video and virtual worlds.
Government agencies must comply with Section 508 accessibility requirements when using any of these web-based collaboration tools. In the future, nongovernmental users of social media may have more responsibility to ensure accessible web content too, as the Department of Justice may issue regulations for websites under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act covered topics such as captions on internet videos.
Making social media accessible presents some unique challenges. Much of the information and content is user generated. This requires more people to be knowledgeable about and pay attention to ways of ensuring that web content is accessible to persons with disabilities. Additionally, the publishing venues and platforms should support accessibility by making it easier to create accessible content. When government members use social media, compliance with Section 508 must be taken into account to ensure that the most accessible tools are selected and that accessibility features are activated.
Publishing this very blog, Accessibility Forum 2.0, was our chance to apply these requirements to an actual collaborative site. An earlier post discussed what we did to build in accessibility; we’d like to hear of your efforts to make social media accessible to all.