Is Social Media Becoming More Accessible to People with Disabilities?

Two new and unrelated Mashable articles caught my eye today that make me hope that maybe, just maybe, social media channels are starting to think inclusively. People who are deaf or hard of hearing are excluded from two channels the hearing take for granted: voice-only chats and uncaptioned videos. And people who are blind or low vision miss a lot of context if there isn't alternative text (descriptive text read by a screen reader) on a photo or graphic, or a transcript accompanying a video.

The first Mashable article is about Google+'s newest upgrades to Hangouts, that explains how it's even more sign language friendly than it was before. It turns out that whomever in the Hangout had the most background noise had the most face time, since it was voice (noise) activated. The new feature allows everyone to turn off their microphones, then whomever wants to “Take the Floor” hits Shift +s to request it. Slick.

The second Mashable article talks about a new photo sharing platform called Fotobabble that adds voice to photos. The blog focuses on the marketing campaign enablement when someone uses the Facebook app, iPhone app or website to add voice to any photo, but I'm sure the accessibility community is looking past marketing campaigns and anticipating that the easier tools make it to make accessible content, the more frequently it will happen, naturally.

Exciting stuff. :-)