MAKE YOUR DIGITAL RESOURCES ACCESSIBILE
Zoom meetings, virtual tours, learning tools, talks on Youtube: museums seem to be definitely on the web by now.
Many people and museums have suddenly started to deal with technology, often forgetting, in the urgency of the moment, the importance of sharing accessible (and relevant) resources. There are hundreds of proposals, lists, tips and free platforms on how to articulate content: what we have to remember now is how to make them accessible, with at least some basic advice. Digital culture is not my first field of interest, but we all need it extremely much and these days offer the opportunity (and the time) to learn more about how best to do it.
1. Say it easy
Think of your audience. Who are they? Are you sure they know your lingo or long words? Are you able to stick to concrete ideas when you explain? Can you avoid using rhetorical figures? If you have never thought about these issues, take a look at the European Standards to make your communication more accessibile.
And remember: simplifying language does not necessarily mean impoverishing content!
2. Say Hello / write Hello
Have you ever experienced broken speakers? Well, enjoying movies gets pretty hard. The same happens when you talk to someone who speaks a language you can't understand perfectly: misunderstanding something completely is easy. That's why captioning video is so important. Did you know that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also started to do that on her Instagram? Be careful though, because not all captions are the same: make sure you make them easy to read! A great resource to learn how to do it well is offered by the See Hear Communication Matters blog.
3. Make your video calls for all
Okay, let's set up our first online meeting. But how do we include colleagues or people who are struggling to follow or understand the video call?
First of all, you should define and share your agenda as clearly as possible, as well as give a complete and well organized notes at the end of the meeting, useful for people with disabilities like everyone else. For deaf people you may also need a sign language interpreter: many strategies are summarized in a very rigorous way by the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center.
4. Which message
are you sending?
What you have to do first of all is describe the images: both on this website and on my Instagram all images have alternative texts that allow screen readers to describe them for people with visual impairments. Try it on Facebook and Twitter too, it won't take more than a few minutes! And if you want more examples, take a look at what the Harvard University suggests.
5. Ask for opinions and test
Paying people for their job is always fundamental but maybe now more then ever you could find some people with free time and life experience available to test voluntarily your materials' accessibility: you just need to be careful to structure correctly the test, be open to some change and remember to say them thank you!
Thanks also to: Kennedy Center Office of VSA and Accessibility, Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium, Linda Darling-Hammond (Forbes), National Center on Accessible Educational Materials, Scottish Accessible Forum, American Alliance of Museums, Online Learning for Students with Disabilities.