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It's not all Zoom and gloom... - The All-Inclusive Newsletter #3

It's not all Zoom and gloom... - The All-Inclusive Newsletter #3
By Liam O'Dell • Issue #3 • View online
Good evening, friend!
Happy March and welcome to the third edition of The All-Inclusive Newsletter.
They say good things come in threes, and at this point, I was beginning to fear that this little project would soon run out of steam. Yet in the past two weeks, there’s been a whole host of feature and accessibility announcements.
Let’s unpack them all, shall we?

🗞️ Read A11y 'bout it!
Clubhouse for Android the ‘top feature’ in development, co-founder confirms
Microsoft's Group Transcribe helps users transcribe and translate
Does AccessiBe make the web more accessible?
🥱 'Zoom fatigue' is not a new phenomenon...
Nick Ducoff
Stanford paper says to reduce zoom fatigue:

1. Reduce size of zoom window

2. Hide self view

3. Go audio only as needed

4. Minimize the window as needed so you don’t see others
Stanford researchers have investigated ways to reduce so-called ‘Zoom fatigue’, as if it’s a new phenomenon, when actually, deaf people have been dealing with what’s known as ‘concentration fatigue’ for a whole lot longer.
How I describe it is that if I’m in a situation which isn’t the most accessible - either the speaker has a strong accent or background noise is an issue, I’m having to manually concentrate and process what someone is saying. Normally, this would be automatic, like everyone else’s hearing process.
Yet, what I’m having to do is work hard to decipher a single word, then concentrate on applying that to a sentence, then a paragraph, then the wider context of the discussion. As I say, in an ideal scenario, this wouldn’t require much conscious thought, but it does in these instances, and it’s exhausting.
As such, it’s odd that Stanford wouldn’t think to consult with disabled people to learn more about the coping strategies we deploy to avoid concentration fatigue. This pandemic has seen the wider population forced to use technology and working conditions from which disabled people have benefitted for years, so we’re the best people to speak to about things like this.
If you’re looking for some advice on how to tackle Zoom/concentration fatigue, though, my good friend Charlotte Hyde has shared some great tips over on Twitter, based on her own lived experience.
Zoom to offer free automatic captions to all users by autumn 2021
What took Zoom so long?
Zoom’s blog post on the matter doesn’t say anything as to why, almost a year into the pandemic, they’ve only just now thought of making their automatic captions software available to all account holders. It doesn’t mean that there may be a few things which prompted them to make the decision right now, in particular.
First and foremost, a class action lawsuit was filed in December by two deaf individuals over Zoom’s failure to make the AI captions available to all users. There hasn’t been much publicised about the case since, but according to, an “order on motion for extension of time to answer” was recorded on 17 February, so the case is very much still ongoing.
They may also argue limited capacity in the current crisis, but that’s not much of an excuse either. A failure to provide access is inexcusable.
It reads like another case of ‘accessibility on-demand’, a term I use to describe the constant catch-up disabled people face when it comes to fighting for access, and Zoom using a backlash over an inaccessible feature as evidence for making it accessible. It’s frustrating that in so many cases, it’s only when businesses are publicly shamed that they realise that they should probably have made their product accessible from the outset.
Yet with this being said, Zoom’s announcement is welcome news, but there’s still a few issues to address in this area. Fellow campaigner Ashlee Boyer points out an important next step around removing the need to ask hosts to turn on captions for deaf and disabled participants.
It makes sense. If true access around automatic captions is to be secured, then individuals must be given the power to activate the accessibility tools they need themselves. It’s not enough to rely on/hope that a hearing host does the decent thing and turns on the captions for deaf attendees; we need certainty, and placing the power in the individual is the key, the solution, and an important next step.
👤 Twitter's 'Super Followers' will massively help disabled people, actually...
Liam O'Dell
NEW: Some features Twitter teased during #TWTRAnalystDay:

> Auto-block and mute setting if a tweet receives "negative attention".

> Communities: Making it easier to participate in "more targeted" conversations

> Super Follows monetisation feature
#RIPTwitter was trending, and people were questioning why someone would ‘pay for more tweets’, but I think that’s rather dismissive. There’s reasons to be excited about Twitter’s plans for a paid, ‘Super Followers’ revenue stream.
Why? Because these systems are a lifeline for disabled people and other marginalised creators when other avenues don’t yield results. As one deaf creator said recently, YouTube videos on a subject as niche as accessibility, for example, are unlikely to generate much attention or views, which go on to generate revenues for channels. When YouTube’s unreliable monetisation system fails to create results, external revenue streams such as Patreon offer a significant safety net, and plug the gap.
So, what ‘gap’ is Twitter trying to fill with Super Follows? What does it offer that’s missing from the main product?
The answer perhaps lies in community. When the main timeline has become an endless void in which we must all bid for popularity (there’s a reason why the term ‘doomscrolling’ has become more well-known over the years), it may well be that we’re looking for something a little more specific.
There’s a reason why Twitter’s Kayvon Beykpour and Dantley Davis were focussed heavily on hobbies, interests, Lists, Topics and micro-communities in their presentation on Twitter’s Analyst Day on Thursday this week. In amongst the noise, people want deeper connections (look no further than Spaces for another example of this). Subscriber-only newsletters can be an opportunity for disabled people to offer up paid-for insights and awareness resources, while exclusive Community spaces can bring fanbases or specific demographics together.
Speaking of spaces, one area which isn’t touched upon in the offering for ‘Super Followers’ is Spaces. They could perhaps get the exclusive opportunity to moderate a user’s Spaces, for example. For the creators themselves - especially disabled people - they could be a great opportunity to host weekly webinars educating others on an issue. For up-and-coming bands, it could allow for them to give intimate performances to a small crowd, or share new material in a listening party.
All of these changes are, essentially, Twitter expanding upon the hashtag. Now, they aren’t just trending memes or reactionary comments, they are movements and organisations, and this new feature certainly recognises that, offering something It is, essentially, Twitter’s take on Facebook Groups.
👋🏻 See you next time… on 19 March!
You’re up to date! I’ll be back, as always, in a fortnight to share the latest in tech, social media and accessibility.
Until then, I’m off to go and finish the book I’m reading. It’s taking me a while.
Remember: if there’s something you’d like to see in these newsletters, or any other feedback, reply to this email or ping me a DM over on Twitter.
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Enjoy your weekend!
Did you enjoy this issue?
Liam O'Dell

I'm writing my first book, and I want you to follow my journey, but also motivate me to put words on a page.

Formerly 'The All-Inclusive Newsletter', this newsletter will share updates as I begin to compile my debut, but will also be a way for me to reach out with ways you can be involved, and support the work I'm doing.

Sign up to The Book Accountability Project for updates on my writing progress when I have them.
Hi, I'm Liam. I'm a Deaf and disabled journalist and campaigner who is now writing my first non-fiction book, and needs people to hold me accountable.

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