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Let's talk about *that* new disability campaign... - The All-Inclusive Newsletter #15

Let's talk about *that* new disability campaign... - The All-Inclusive Newsletter #15
By Liam O'Dell • Issue #15 • View online
Good evening,
Wait, another newsletter so soon? Yes, given I took an unexpected month off, you’ve got a new issue in your inbox this week as well - how exciting!
Also, I most definitely meant 20th August in my last email, and there was meant to be a section of the newsletter filled in too. If you missed out on the full edition, the online version has been updated with all the info from that issue.
As for this issue, keep scrolling for:
  • A discussion on whether you should add jokes in alt text
  • My thoughts on the new #WeThe15 campaign launching ahead of the Paralympics
  • The latest news on Twitter’s verification process, which is on pause yet again
Happy reading!

🗞️ Read A11y 'bout it!
A quarter of Deaf and disabled people feel they can’t attend an indoor live event until 2022
Liverpool’s GPs to offer BSL through service run by Deaf people and interpreters
This blind woman received an accessible birthday surprise...
Twitter's going to make changes to its inaccessible redesign
🟣 Let's talk about the new #WeThe15 campaign...
WeThe15 💜
People with disabilities make up 15% of the world’s population.
Let’s break down the barriers that keep us apart.
If you missed it, a bunch of organisations including the Paralympics, UNESCO and the European Commission have come together to launch a new campaign, WeThe15 - the ‘15’ referring to the percentage of the world’s population which is made up of disabled people (15%, or 1.2 bullion people).
So, what are some of their objectives? Well, this one in particular stands out to me:
Provide education on the social model of disability to dispel global societal and cultural misconceptions and explain that disability is created by societal and systemic barriers rather than an individual’s impairment.
For those unfamiliar with the social model, it argues that disabled people are disabled not by their condition or ‘impairment’, but rather by societal barriers in the form of attitudes and infrastructure. A popular example concerns a lack of a ramp at the front of the building. That’s an infrastructure and attitude issue which is preventing a wheelchair user from accessing a space, not their condition.
As a result of this, many disabled people refer to themselves as just that - disabled people. It recognises the integral part disability can play in our identities. The alternative, known as the medical model, focusses more on conditions and impairments to be treated, and uses terminology such as ‘persons with disability’ to describe members of this community. BIG disclaimer here: if an individual prefers to use person-first language - that is, ‘person with a disability’ - to describe themselves, then that is absolutely fine and should be respected.
As people have pointed out to me this week, in an ideal scenario, we’d have campaigns which cater to both models in their campaigning, respecting the diversity of our community and the terminologies that we use. However, if a movement is planning to “provide education” on the social model (disabled people) but proceeds to use “people with disabilities” (medical model) in its official launch video, then that’s a terrible bit of comms right there.
Similarly, buildings have been lit up purple to raise awareness, and Facebook’s gotten involved too. That’s all well and good, but I think we’re past the point of turning The Gherkin into an aubergine for one night only and corporate campaigns.
Yes, it’s great that it challenges the harmful ‘inspirational’ or ‘superhuman’ narrative pumped out every Paralympics (Channel 4 has always been on tricky ground with its campaigns as the official broadcaster), but I’d like to think we’re past the point of raising awareness now. Non-disabled people know that we exist; accessibility is the first step towards action. It’s one thing making non-disabled people aware of the barriers we face, now we need to encourage them to work with us to dismantle them.
Unfortunately, at this early stage, I’m unconvinced that we’ll see such a drive from this campaign - at the very least, not for a while…
🤔 Should you include jokes in alt text?
Marty McBi
Hi #AccessibilityTwitter, and maybe #NEISvoid folk have thoughts too: is there a consensus on hiding jokes in alt text, *in addition* to the image description? Like a bonus “Easter egg” for screen reader users etc? Or is that poor form/taste?
The replies to the above tweet are worth reading. As someone who isn’t blind or visually impaired, I can’t speak on alt text, but I can definitely tell you that captions/subtitles really aren’t the place for jokes or witty commentary. They’re there to enable me to access a piece of content, and if my experience with subtitles is different to the experience of hearing people, then that isn’t equality, and by definition, that isn’t accessibility either.
If you can hear it, then it needs to be put into the captions.
My access is not your punchline.
☑️ Twitter's paused verification again...
Twitter Verified
We’ve temporarily hit pause on rolling out access to apply for Verification so we can make improvements to the application and review process.

For those who have been waiting, we know this may be disappointing. We want to get things right, and appreciate your patience.
With Twitter hitting pause on its verification scheme again to “make improvements to the application and review process”, we’re reminded once again that verification is broken. Disabled activists are still struggling to get the recognition they deserve, and even Danny Devito lost his blue badge for a while earlier this week, after posting a tweet in support of striking works.
It’s not clear how long this break in verification will last, but let’s hope that when they return, one of the improvements they’ll be making will be around the activist category, which still has the unobtainable follower requirement of 100K followers.
👋🏻 See you on 3 September!
We’re back to fortnightly editions now, given you lucky folks have had two issues in two weeks to make up for my absence.
In the meantime, don’t forget you can continue the conversation with me over on Twitter, where you can also tip me on CashApp, if you think these newsletters are rather good.
Oh, and those lovely folks at Twitter have added a cute little banner to my Twitter profile too so you can subscribe to the newsletter there, if you haven’t already. It’s currently available on desktop and Android.
Until next time, have a good 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.

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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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