Accessing Higher Ground Conference 2022

Submitted by Jaime Harter on Thu, 12/22/2022
Summary
Putting accessibility on the forefront shouldn't be neglected.

My colleague, Jessica, and I had the pleasure of attending the Accessing Higher Ground Conference in Denver last month. Jessica is an Instructional Designer for our team, and I am an Information Specialist that dabbles in social media for the Center.

Accessing Higher Ground focuses on the implementation of accessible media, universal design for learning, the legality of ADA and Section 508, as well as creating web pages. This is mainly geared for institutions of higher education and businesses or other audiences that are interested in learning best practices for web design.

Jessica got inspired from attending a session called Accessible InDesign Layouts to Produce Accessible PDFs which motivated her to pick up lessons for InDesign so she can learn how to further her skills into producing better and more accessible PDFs.

Two of my favorite sessions I attended go hand in hand – Social Media and Accessibility and Rethink Alt Text. Gian Wild of AccessibilityOz presented Social Media and Accessibility and what did she start with? Supernatural, of course which just so happens to be my current choice of a binge! As we all know, the purposes of use of social media ranges from business, to personal, to entertainment and education.

A huge part of my job is managing Rocky Mountain ADA Center’s social media presence, so it made sense for me to attend this session. I got to learn the importance of prioritizing accessibility while juggling multiple platforms we currently have. This session took a deep dive into certain steps that I didn’t realize were small but huge for accessibility. For example, ensuring that your agency’s contact details are at the forefront of your social media pages. Another example is that it can be a good thing to have multiple social media platforms because not even a single platform is accessible to ALL persons with disabilities.

Another takeaway from this session is that I had no idea there were alternative apps available that create accessible interfaces for social media.

  • Metal for Android: boasts a light, functional and beautiful interface for Facebook and Twitter
  • Instagram Lite: small but fast version of Instagram with less functionality
  • EasyChirp: a third-party web-based Twitter interface that is accessible via the web and optimized for disabled users and users of assistive technology
  • YouDescribe: audio descriptions of YouTube videos

We obviously can’t forget about alt text or the “alt attribute,” which means adding description of complex images. Alt text is for those who use some screen readers or text-to-speech tools. Bevi Chagnon of Pubcom.com, who presented Rethink Alt Text, advised that when considering alt text, this isn’t just for people with vision deficiencies but for those who have cognitive deficiencies. When it comes to writing alt text, it must accommodate all assistive technology users. All in all, having good concise alt text available benefits users with disabilities.

Overall, attending this conference has empowered me to not overlook the little details and to ensure that I am doing more than just the bare minimum of making sure that our social media presence is accessible as a whole for our audience.

Please feel free to check out our social media and to contact our office, should there be any issues.


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