Twitter is allowing people with disabilities to express themselves and connect over shared experiences
Conversations around inclusion and representation are happening every single day on Twitter. With Twitter, people can feel seen and heard with hashtags like #GamingForEveryone, #DisabledAndCute, and #DisabilityPride.
Marketers are reflecting more deeply about what it truly means to champion diversity and inclusion from all angles. People are urging brands to be intentional about authentic representation of the disabled community. Rooted in the conversations and communities happening on Twitter, here is a brief guide on how to design campaigns to be thoughtful and inclusive.
1. Partner with influential Creators & voices
Twitter is full of popular Creators who are proudly sharing their lived experiences as disabled people. Most of us have heard that the disabled community makes up 15% of our global population, but you might be surprised to learn that their representation is still greatly lacking in advertising. People on Twitter are taking note when it comes to brands leading the way. Levi’s launched its #LevisBecoming campaign on Twitter to showcase the individual journeys and stories of artists, athletes, and Creators. The campaign, centralizing on “the beauty of becoming,” gave these influential voices the opportunity to share their stories of fighting for equality, raising awareness for their beliefs, overcoming adversity, and celebrating their triumphs.
Brands like Levi’s are leading the pack by advocating that representation in 2021 isn’t a timely act but an everyday commitment to push a new, more accessible world forward.
Brands can tap into the Creator community in ways that challenge common perceptions. Take a look at this video from Netflix’s @StrongBlackLead, which partnered with Nakia Smith, a popular Black Deaf Creator who taught audiences about Black American Sign Language.
Creators can be in front of the camera or hired for their creative skills. Take, for example, the amazing artist Brittany Castle, who honors her Deaf culture through ASL-inspired artwork.
2. Create for (and with) the Disabled Community
Showing up for these communities in your media is only half the battle. Representation needs to be authentic without giving way to exploitation. For example, consider Degree’s announcement of its adaptive deodorant, a product designed for people with visual impairment and upper limb motor disabilities. Titled “Degree Inclusive,” the brand approached the design process from the perspective that while one in four Americans have a disability, products within the beauty and personal care industry rarely cater to this community. As a result, Degree took the initiative to partner with a team of designers, occupational therapists, engineers, and actual members of the disabled community around the world to create the world’s first adaptive deodorant.
Nike also announced tech inspired by (then) 16-year-old Twitter fan @matthewwalzer24, who has cerebral palsy, and wrote a letter to the company asking for an accessible shoe design for those who struggle with tying laces. The response from the community and the world at large was a positive sign for brands aiming to make their products and services more inclusive.
3. Keep all content accessible
Besides increasing representation, marketers have a chance to be proactive by designing all content with accessibility in mind. On Twitter, a few key best practices can help make branded content more globally accessible. Some of these include:
Photos and Videos
- Add subtitles, captions, or subcaptions to all videos for the hearing impaired.
- Avoid using flashing lights or strobe effects in videos.
- Do not hide information in images.
- Provide alt text on images, GIFS, and Fleets for visually impaired users. Alternative text is a brief description of an image that's displayed when a subscriber can't view your images. Alt text should be short but descriptive (150-250 characters) and highlight the relevance of the image to your message. Find instructions on how to do so here.
- Use inclusive language.
- Make hashtags accessible for people using voice assistive technology by capitalizing the first letter of each word. Include Camel case in your hashtags; this not only enables accessibility, but also improves readability. For example use #UntilWeAllBelong rather than #untilweallbelong.
- Use emojis in moderation and avoid putting emojis in the middle of written content.
- Do not use special Unicode characters or ASCII art in posts or Tweets. This won’t convey the same meaning to a screen reader user.
At Twitter ArtHouse, our mission is to create Twitter-first content that is inclusive and representative of diverse people on our service. Our goal is to uplift a wide range of voices so that our platform continues to thrive from the diverse conversation we see today.
Looking for more ways to design accessible and inclusive campaigns on Twitter? Follow @ArtHouse on Twitter for more creative insights.
Noah Piou (@noahpiou) is a Creator Content Coordinator at Twitter ArtHouse (@ArtHouse), a global team of creatives and content experts known for bringing innovative solutions to the leading brands to create content that moves people. As a self-proclaimed anthropologist turned pop culture fanatic, he now obsesses over anything making a splash in culture from music to movies to fashion and uncovering how they all intersect.
Accessibility Center of Excellence mission
The mission of Accessibility COE is to create a company culture that provides inclusive experiences to our customers, partners, candidates, and employees with disabilities by building a centralized hub of resources, tools, and training that is customized to individual roles in the company.
Gurpreet Kaur (@GurpreetKaurSW) is the head of Global Accessibility for Twitter and is leading Twitter’s journey to becoming the world’s most inclusive, diverse, and accessible tech company.