Section 508 Best Practices Webinar: Accessible Content Shared Through Social Media, March 26

Last updated: February 26, 2019

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From the United States Access Board

Logo for the Accessibility Online Web Series Logo for the U.S. Access Board

The use of social media by Federal agencies has become widespread across the Federal government. Agencies use social media to promote their mission and to engage members of the public. The next webinar in the "Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series" will take place March 26 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and cover how federal agencies can implement social media in an accessible manner. Representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will share their experiences in ensuring access to various social media sites and platforms. NIH maintains over 60 Facebook pages, 40 YouTube channels, 13 Flickr pages, and numerous Twitter accounts. The presenters will provide an overview of social media techniques, address common questions, review access issues and solutions, and offer best practices and techniques for making content accessible on various social media platforms, including Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube. They will also cover internal guidance that NIH has developed and other resources on the subject that are available.

Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the live webinar. For more details or to register, visit

The "Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series" provides helpful information and best practices for federal agencies in meeting their obligations under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which ensures access to information and communication technology in the federal sector. This webinar series is made available by the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council in partnership with the U.S. Access Board.


March 26, 2019 1:00p.m. to 2:30p.m. (ET)


  • Jennifer Dorsey Social Media Coordinator, NIH National Cancer Institute
  • Gary Morin Program Analyst, NIH Office of the Chief Information Officer


Note: Registration closes 24 hours before the start of the session. Instructions for accessing the webinar on the day of the session will be sent by email to registered individuals in advance of the session. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) and Video Sign Language Interpreters are available for each session and will be broadcast through the webinar platform. A telephone option (not toll-free) for receiving audio is also available.

Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for January 17

Last updated: May 19, 2016

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We present to you a menu of tidbits collected in recent days that are too short for blog posts and sometimes too long for a tweet (when we want to add clarifying comments). Headings provide a light grouping to help you skim the offerings. Bon appétit!


By the way, you can now monitor our Twitter stream for job openings related to accessibility, thanks to the efforts of Web Diva Cyn, who followed a great tip from the webmaster of the STC Technical Editing SIG.

Did you know that some people view autism as an asset, not a liability, in some jobs? The topic of this article is just that – autism as an asset.

Evengrounds provokes with the question: Why bother hiring people with disabilities?

On the other hand, maybe those people with disabilities are too good for some employers?!

Cloud Computing

Is your head in a cloud with the talk about cloud computing? T. V. Raman gave a talk at the Accessing Higher Ground conference in November 2009 and made his slides (in PDF and HTML format) and talk (MP3 format) available to everyone. Check out the highlights of the challenges and opportunities of accessibility in the clouds.


Before you say "I'm not deaf, so I really don't want to hear about captioning anymore", read "Captions: Understand DVD Shows," an article about the benefits of captions for people without hearing issues. As a person without hearing issues, I am grateful for the subtitles on my TV. It gets me safely through parts of shows where some technician went a bit crazy with the background sounds or music, disrupting the flow of speech in the process.

In the U.S., there is a petition to support a move to make telecommunications accessible for and usable by people with disabilities. The petition was created by the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) to support "The Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009", also known as H.R.3101. COAT made a one-page summary of H.R.3101. From that page, you can also navigate to the petition site and follow the progress of the bill through the United States Congress.

More awareness about captioning is coming March 2, on Dr. Seuss' birthday. That is when DCMP holds its Read Captions Across America (RCAA) campaign, held in conjunction with the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America event every year. RCAA wants to "raise awareness—particularly among children and their parents and teachers—that video-based media can be just as effective at encouraging and fostering reading skills as books, as long as captions are always turned on!"

Excellent information from the University of Washington's DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs and careers, such as those in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology: Creating Video and Multimedia Products That Are Accessible to People with Sensory Impairments, by Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D. "And How Universal Design Features Benefit Everyone". PDF version.

Social Media

Does Twitter need a wake-up call? This article says that user "accessibility is crucial for social media sites that want to stay successful. Now Twitter is risking its future by not taking accessibility seriously".

With that in mind, read this review of versus!

For those who still find social media boring, here's a great "matchmaking" story from the Twitter community.

On Jan 20, 2009, @scenariogirl writes "@briankelly Fantastic talk this morning, I will come up and say hi at lunch". On Jan 23, 2009, @scenariogirl writes "massive thanks and kudos to @briankelly for adding context & purpose to my accessibility methodology i.e. Accessibility isn't binary." Later that month, a talk is born: "From Web Accessibility 2.0 to Web Adaptability". Finally, six months later, a paper is published.

Rather sweet, don't you think? It's also proof that Twitter isn't just vapid chatter! That paper is pretty amazing as discussed in our Toward Web Adaptability blog post back in July.

Web Accessibility

Have you been told to investigate the Web Accessibility Accessibility Guidelines? Tom Babinszki set up a nice WCAG 2.0 tutorial that is a very user-friendly introduction to the large body of W3C documents.

If you struggle with the alt and title attributes in HTML, you may enjoy this article by Steve Faulkner of The Paciello Group. The problem is often due to different ways of rendering the information depending on the browser, so Steve did some testing, which may improve your understanding.


There is a need to make video games accessible for disabled gamers. This article discusses the benefits of using video games for people with disabilities, and why the video game industry should keep such customers in mind. Otherwise, "they are missing out on a great way to improve their games' brand equity."

Able Gamers "gets" the concept of accessible games. They review games to determine how playable the games are for gamers with disabilities. It's a good site for game developers to monitor. An interview with Able Gamers' Mark Barlet explains why.

What happens when a person who is not a gamer-with-a-disability starts thinking about video game accessibility? Read the article in that hyperlink to find out!


What conference to attend? Where to go?

Our first recommendation is – of course! – the STC Technical Communication Summit 2010 in Dallas, May 2-5.

For other conference resources, try


From the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the world, you can explore the Smithsonian's Disability Rights Movement online exhibit. It shows information about with disabilities and the Disability Rights Movement.


Did you know that Baen Books Offers Free eBooks For People With Disabilities? There have been some sign-in difficulties, as @vavroom writes. However, when you do gain access, their entire catalogue of e-books is available "to people who have a reading disability. This can be visual impairment or physical inability to hold a book."

See also Books for Visually Impaired from the Benicia Public Library.

Boomers/Silver Surfers

You may not have a disability yourself, but there is a good chance that you will grow older! That means you can't avoid discussion about baby boomers, senior citizens, the elderly, silver surfers – or whatever you want to call the older/oldest generation using the web and technology.

Some Senior citizens becoming more comfortable with using Internet. However, how do those "boomers" use technology, and what can we learn from their attitudes? The article includes a link to a full report in PDF format.

Another resource is Microsoft's free, online "Computer Guide for Boomers".


Recently, @vick08 tweeted that "this is the web I'd like it to be." He was talking about the BBC's approach to accessibility – "my web, my way". Take a moment to explore what BBC has done with accessibility on their (massive) site. Get inspired for your work and learn along the way.

In contrast, we have the government site for New York City. Jim Thatcher reviews the site and gives his verdict about the accessibility of (once available on Oh dear, get inspired about what you should not do for your work!


We close this week's gazette with some food for thought.

"Society is disabled in its inability to include the diversity of human experience equitably. Society needs an inclusion prostheses." – @jasonnolan

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude" – Scott Hamilton

Link Contributors

This post was glued together with links or inspiration from many people. They are listed with their Twitter names.


Thanks to all of you!

How inclusive is CAPTCHA?

Last updated: March 4, 2015

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Filtering visitors, or unwanted visitors, is a challenge to those who maintain websites. Unwanted visitors refers to those who want to post material unsuitable for children, grandparents – or even yourself! (I'm talking about spammers and their ilk.)

Unfortunately, one of the popular methods of filtering creates a barrier for other legitimate visitors. This method is called CAPTCHA and is a barrier to those using screen readers. CAPTCHA is an image of a distorted word, whose letters you must type into a field to identify yourself to the system. If you cannot see, how do you use an image to identify yourself as a real person who wants access to a certain system? Perhaps it is time to revisit the topic of CAPTCHA?

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) wrote about this topic back in 2006. This particular article was about the exclusion of blind users on the social networking sites MySpace, Facebook, and Friendster. AFB also prepared a video on YouTube that offers a visual demonstration of the barrier presented by CAPTCHA. Half a year later, Facebook came up with a screen-reader friendly version of their gift shop.

In January 2008, a blog entry on the AFB site praised Facebook for improving the site's accessibility: Thanks Facebook! One blind user explains what it means to have access to Facebook even though she cannot see pictures. A recent entry from AFB about Facebook and accessibility has a link to the pages inside Facebook that explain their accessibility policy. Kudos to AFB intern, Michelle Hackman, for working persistently with Facebook to make that social networking site more inclusive! If developers of Web applications had technical communicators who were accessibility-savvy on their project from Day 1, people like Michelle can use their energy elsewhere!

With the issues presented by CAPTCHA, how much longer will it be used?

An August 28, 2008 article in The Guardian from the UK argues that CAPTCHA is broken. The "bad guys" that CAPTCHA was designed to block have already broken down the barrier, and unfortunately, it is not to be nice to visitors with screen readers.

What alternatives are there?

Some use a question and answer system designed by Mike Cherim.

reCAPTCHA is an interesting alternative, but not the perfect alternative. It claims to be accessible to blind users, but discussions at Joe Dolson's Accessible Web Design, Blind Access Journal, and Twitter's blog reveal flaws, such as lack of proper keyboard access. An interesting aside about reCAPTCHA is that it is being used to assist with a digitalization project of book texts. This is a worthy and ambitious project.

Are the flaws in reCAPTCHA still there? Are there other inclusive filters in place or on the drawing board somewhere? Share your experiences in the comments.