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Crisis Communications, even when engaging in messaging from leaders can be a challenge for millions of Canadians who are living with disabilities.
While we continue to share breaking news over social platforms via different forms of content, how inclusive is this information? We continue to keep millions of Canadians in the dark by not taking the time to ensure that our communications are fully inclusive to all abilities.

Part of the issue is there is no current model on how to approach and assess inclusive and accessible social media.

As a leader in inclusion and accessibility, we had to take action into our own hands by addressing the constant evolution of social channels and recognizing that more of these platforms are adapting new accessibility features.

Recognizing this gap, we did a marketing and communications assessment with our Lead Canada toolkit on where we stood with our digital platform and how much better we could make our social media content so that it's inclusive and accessible to people of all abilities.

We took action on the Lead Canada 5 key steps: 

1) Establishing a vision team to guide the LEAD process.
We identified that we wanted to make our social media more inclusive to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and partially-sighted. We built a vision team, and it was important to ensure this team was comprised of people with these lived experiences. 

2) Completing pre-assessment activities to support session facilitation:
With our programmatic team, we created an accessible checklist to ensure that any programmer or content creator could follow the steps to creating accessible content in a post or video. Items on the checklist include how to write a descriptive video script, how to monitor audio levels and an approval process of the reference to the overall disability language used.

3) In-person facilitated workshop 
All staff from programming and marketing were included in an in-person described video/closed captioning workshop. This was led by the same individuals with lived experience who were able to share the process and the purpose behind these formats.

4) Developing the action plan
We created a digital tracker that functions based on our engagement with our existing and prospective partners and stakeholders. This provides us with the opportunity to do a data analysis with the support of our research team to monitor and measure. The role of our implementation thus far has led to the impact of our accessible solutions on increased followers and participants, increased sponsorship and donors, increase in quality engagement and retention amongst our existing and prospective partners and stakeholders.

5) Implementation and communication
Once video content passes our accessibility scan and has met the checklist with approval through our marketing and communications development, the social and digital products become eligible to share via social media platforms and other methods of communication.

We recognize that we need communicate these changes to people of all abilities and we need to educate our partners and stakeholders of these steps and changes so we can be reaching the millions of Canadians they serve living with a disability. 

Here are some of the key examples we took to creating more accessible social media posts:

Blind or partially-sighted:
  • Use high-contrast colours for text and background.
  • Good examples are black or dark blue on a white or yellow background, or white/yellow text on a black/dark blue background.
  • Alt- text on images: You can do this on many social media pages in their accessibility settings on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
  • Described video
Deaf and hard of hearing:
  • Add closed captions to your videos: Explore different software’s that help to automatically create transcription files.
    Tip: Embed the closed captions so they show up on social media platforms that don't currently support closed captioned files such as Instagram.  
We continue to expand our communications to be accessible to all such as using clear language to work with individuals with developmental and learning disabilities. For more information please email bizdev@abilitiescentre.org 
 
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