Wiki launches Emergency 2.0 Accessibility Toolkit

  • Author: Eliza Cussen
  • Date: 10 Dec 2012

The online toolkit provides tips, resources and apps to assist people with a disability in overcoming accessibility challenges of social media.

When Hurricane Sandy devastated the USA's east coast in October, people turned to social media, such as Twitter, for the latest information. Unfortunately, due to the lack of social media accessibility, many couldn't make use of these potentially life-saving tools. In response, volunteers have come together to create the Emergency 2.0 Wiki Accessibility Toolkit.

The online toolkit has been developed to provide tips, resources and apps to assist people with a disability to overcome the accessibility challenges of social media. The kit also includes guidelines for emergency agencies and government.

The author of our social media guide, Dr Scott Hollier, assisted on the project.

“We’ve witnessed from recent disasters that social media has the potential to save lives, but people with disabilities often have difficulty accessing important messages as the social media platforms are inaccessible,” said Dr Hollier.

"For example, the main Twitter website can't be easily read with a screen reader […] but important emergency information can be accessed by using an alternative site such as Easy Chirp to read tweets.”

By using the Easy Chirp website to access tweets, people who are blind or vision impaired can access real-time information about where a fire has broken out, whether their area is being evacuated or where to find help.

The Emergency 2.0 Wiki includes:

  • Tips and guides for people with disabilities on how to access social media
  • Emergency smartphone apps for people with a disability
  • Apps and assistive technologies to help people access social media
  • Emergency preparedness YouTube videos that are either captioned or use sign language for the Deaf and hearing impaired
  • Practical guidelines to assist the emergency sector, government, community and business to make social media messages more accessible

The Emergency 2.0 Wiki is a free volunteer-based resource which aims to build resilience by empowering all sectors of the community with the knowledge to use social media and networks in emergencies. It aims to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing locally and globally.

This article is adapted from Access to social media can save lives, published on Media Access Australia. Access iQ™ is an initiative of Media Access Australia, Australia's only independent not-for-profit organisation who advocates for equal access to media and technology for users of all abilities.