Read this, and make it snappy! - The All-Inclusive Newsletter #4

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Read this, and make it snappy! - The All-Inclusive Newsletter #4
By Liam O'Dell • Issue #4 • View online
Hello there!
Whether you were here before I made this little project public, or you’ve only just come along for the ride, welcome to your latest All-Inclusive Newsletter.
I have been blown away by the support for this hobby of mine over the past few weeks. I didn’t expect so many people to be interested in my ramblings, so thank you.
With so many more eyes on my writing, I honestly thought the pressure would get to me a tad, but here I am now, motivated and itching to share with you the latest developments in tech, social media and accessibility.
After all, this issue doesn’t disappoint.
Just keep scrolling…
Liam

🗞️ Read A11y 'bout it!
Twitter's reportedly working on transcriptions for voice messages sent in the DMs.
Accessibility was a big part of the latest Spaces town hall
Facebook finally ventures into the world of social audio?
It's all about You(Tube)...
📸 Picture this...
Images could well get bigger on Twitter soon, and I am not the biggest fan of that.
No doubt prompted - either in part or completely - by the controversy over image previews last year, the social media platform plans to make it so that how an image appears in the tweet composer is how it appears in the timeline.
[App version of the Twitter timeline with a tweet that reads, “Brought this guy out on the water today and he enjoyed every minute.” The Tweet includes a full, uncropped vertical photo of a dog wrapped in a blanket on a boat, with the horizon of a lake and trees either side in the background.] - Photo: Twitter.
[App version of the Twitter timeline with a tweet that reads, “Brought this guy out on the water today and he enjoyed every minute.” The Tweet includes a full, uncropped vertical photo of a dog wrapped in a blanket on a boat, with the horizon of a lake and trees either side in the background.] - Photo: Twitter.
Aside from the potential for bad actors hijacking the feature (most of us have seen those tweets where text is spread across multiple lines, taking up the majority of a person’s timeline), I really am apprehensive around what this means for blind and visually impaired people.
I mean, a lot of images on Twitter still come without alt text/image descriptions, and in two weeks (according to the people working on it) the platform wants to make these bigger?
Similar to when they further rolled out voice tweets without improving its captioning functionality, it’s bizarre that they would test something like this without first making the ‘alt text’ setting visible on every account. Currently, you have to opt in to making your images accessible, and that shouldn’t really be the case.
If this test leads to the implementation of a new feature, then those who rely on alt text face a flood of larger inaccessible images, drowning out the other types of content available on the platform, which is often more inclusive to them.
After all, up until this point, content such as videos, Spaces, images, GIFs and voice tweets all had a somewhat equal footing on the timeline in terms of how much space they take up - they all worked within the same parameters.
The moment those parameters change, the more likely it is that more people will move to the larger content formats to boost their reach - understandable, of course, but it’ll mean finding a plain text tweet (what can very well be the smallest content on the platform) is like finding an accessible needle in an inaccessible haystack.
On this point, Twitter’s Paul Stammy replied: “Twitter is a place to come for congregations and not a place for photo galleries. We don’t want to diminish the words that people put in.” He added that they’ll be looking at other content types and their place in the timeline soon.
As for automated image descriptions, Twitter’s Chief Design Officer, Dantley Davis, did go on to confirm that discussions were being had around this issue. He later went on to tell me in a Space that it could be that alt text is automatically generated before users can go in and edit it.
They’d still be a fair way off Facebook’s offering in this area if they did decide to introduce this, but social media companies must ensure that they aren’t adding to the misconception that automatic is an alternative to manual access.
It isn’t. The former is there as a ‘safety net’ of sorts for when you’ve failed to make your content accessible - even then, it isn’t completely accurate, as it’s using a computer.
More on this in an upcoming edition of this newsletter…
🧠 (Head)Spaces
Charli Clement
Hosting the space was a lot on me cognitively. To talk, read or tweets on the timeline, share tweets into the space, look at who might want to speak, and more, was difficult. There’s a few things that I think could support that process:
I’ve been loving how many fellow disabled people have been able to play around with Twitter Spaces in recent weeks. Charlotte hopped on a Space of mine and shared some feedback on following along as another deaf person, while my friend Sarah touched upon the multitasking involved in navigating the feature.
Sarah’s comments came after she took part in ace activist Charli Clement’s Space for International Women’s Day. Charli herself has since done a thread touching upon the cognitive impact of managing Spaces, which I’d strongly recommend reading for more on the accessibility of Twitter’s latest tool.
Charli’s thread comes from the experience of a neurodivergent person, but there are strong parallels here with the deaf experience. Charlotte wrote about the fatigue that comes from a lack of visual cues and as a regular host of Spaces myself, the juggling act of hosting, approving speakers and keeping an eye on tweets can often be too much to bear.
In other words, the planned co-host feature could not come soon enough. 
Elsewhere, with both deaf and autistic people struggling with social cues, Twitter’s decision to remove the ‘raised hand’ emoji reaction in Spaces (which can no doubt reduce the risk of crosstalk) isn’t the best move, and should be reversed.
The same goes for a text chat, to provide an accessible alternative. As with any feature, it’s often a case of balancing cognition with functionality, simplicity with creativity.
In my view, the key is that everyone is able to access the same basic level of experience, but as feedback from myself and other disabled advocates has shown, Twitter Spaces is still not quite there yet, and it looks to launch to everyone in April.
💬 Instagram's auto caps blunder
🟣 Matt Navarra
@LiamODellUK @NubbinsInc @tiktok_us Correct . Instagram confirmed it was a bug causing some people to be able to see it. It is not currently live for anyone sadly. Must be coming very soon I’d bet
Where do I even begin on this one? Myself and other deaf campaigners were overjoyed last week as it looked like finally - and just maybe - Instagram was beginning to roll out a captions feature (using automatic speech recognition, or ASR) to use on Stories.
Currently, auto captions are only available at a creator level for any IGTV video which they wish to upload (they have to turn it on in their settings). If any user wants to caption their Stories, they would have to type them out manually.
Enter Instagram’s supposed solution. After a creator records a video, they can tap ‘captions’ under the stickers section of the editor, and Instagram auto-transcribes any speech which is said. The text is also editable to correct any errors, which are inevitable when it comes to ASR technology.
On the surface, it sounds like a feature which has been long, long overdue. Yet, if you’re even able to access the option (some users told me they couldn’t), most people I spoke to reported that sharing captioned videos direct to your story would make them ‘internal only’ - in other words, private.
Having experienced this myself, the current workaround involves recording the video, transcribing, saving it and then posting it to your story - a process which, if it is to become the real thing - would put many off making their content accessible through this feature.
In a statement, however, a Facebook company spokesperson told me it is “not publicly testing at the moment”.
So after all that excitement, the feature - seemingly leaked ahead of time - is yet to be released.
As others have said though, when it is, there really is no excuse for you to not make your content accessible at this point.
👋🏻 See you... tomorrow?
Normally at this point, I’d be bidding you farewell and telling you I’ll be back in a fortnight, but if you’re about tomorrow, you could well see me a whole lot sooner.
Having given it a try after my last edition - where it went surprisingly well - I’ll be hopping on Twitter Spaces at 5pm (GMT) to dig deeper into the issues covered in this newsletter, and give you the chance to have your say.
If you miss it, or can’t make it, don’t worry! I plan on making them a regular thing, and I’m always down for a chat. Just reply to this email or ping me a DM over on Twitter.
Other than that, I’ll be back as always every fortnight with a brand new round-up.
Until then, I’m off to go and finish my birthday preparations for the end of the month. It looks set to be a busy day of staying at home.
Did you enjoy this issue? Great! If you think someone you know might be like this information too, just forward this to them, or get them to sign up via my Revue profile.
Enjoy your weekend!
Liam
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.
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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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