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Wiki Launches Accessibility Toolkit to Empower People with Disabilities to use Social Media in Emergencies
Richard Corby highlights the importance of setting up the Emergency 2.0 Wiki Accessibility Reference Group for use by persons with disabilities during emergencies and natural disasters.
On behalf of the Emergency 2.0 Wiki Accessibility Reference Group, I’m really excited to announce the launch of the Emergency 2.0 Wiki Accessibility Toolkit to help people with disabilities to use social media to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.
The online toolkit provides tips, resources and apps to help people with a disability to overcome accessibility challenges of social media. The kit also includes guidelines to assist the emergency sector, government, community, media and business to make social media messages more accessible.
The reason for developing the kit is that we’ve witnessed from recent disasters that social media can save lives, but people with disabilities often have difficulty accessing important messages because the social media platforms themselves are inaccessible.
It’s vitally important that people with disabilities, who are the most vulnerable in our communities during emergencies, are empowered to access instant, lifesaving messages through social media and the accessibility toolkit enables this.
For example, the main Twitter website can’t be easily read with a screen reader, a program that reads out information on a screen for people who are blind. In the kit we point users to alternative sites such as Easy Chirp to read tweets. As people tweet in real time, an accessible app such as this can provide immediate notification of when a fire starts or when flash floods hit a town.
Accessibility resources on the wiki include:
In a whole of community approach, the Accessibility Reference Group crowdsourced the content globally using social media. The group consists of professionals drawn from the emergency, government, NGO, and business sectors in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. They are:
The reference group’s aim is to build the resilience of people with disabilities through encouraging the use of social media in emergency preparation, response and recovery.
Check out the Accessibility Toolkit and share it with others. If you know of a resource we should add, please let us know. Also, we’d love to have your feedback on the kit.
We’re looking to expand the group to include representation from each continent, so if you are from Europe, Asia, South America or Africa and you are working in the social media/accessibility field, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.