With all of the talk about social media everywhere, including this blog, sometimes even those of us with disabilities forget to consider who may be left out. Yes there are various tools that make it easier and in some cases possible for the disabled to use specific social networks, but have we covered everyone and all barriers encountered? Are we at risk of alienating some people, keeping them from accessing the information out there? The definition of a disability is very broad, encompassing so many factors. It is difficult for developers of network tools to be sure that absolutely everyone can use them and get to the informational content that is available on the internet.
Here are a few examples of some disabilities and the types of content that is virtually inaccessible to them.
· If you are hearing impaired, you cannot access the majority of podcast materials. There are few podcasts that are also offered in full text transcription, or in other ways accessible to the deaf. I myself listen to a variety of podcasts, but the information and entertainment I get from them is not available to those who are unable to hear.
· Persons who are visually impaired and need to enlarge text on a page find that many of the social networking sites do not allow for increasing font size. The background color schemes can make the content impossible to read.
· People with Dyslexia struggle with the busy graphic schemes presented and in many cases, the colors or other details of the page are in a state of constant change.
· Someone who is unable to use a mouse due to a motor disability is locked out of participating in many of the applications and features of any given social networking site.
These are just a few examples, not to mention people that do not have access to the internet at all. If you are only using social networking to market, you are leaving out those who are unable to get on the internet for whatever reason. All of that said, we really are moving forward. More and more ways to access this information are developed every day. Even with its pitfalls, social networking has opened many doors for people, including those who happened to have a disability. We simply have to try and consider all possibilities as we embrace this ever-changing world of social media.