Is your content inclusive?
Episode 1466th May 2022 • Courageous Content with Janet Murray • Janet Murray
00:00:00 00:16:49

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IMPORTANT: THIS TRANSCRIPT IS AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED. WE GIVE IT A QUICK CHECK THROUGH BUT WE DON’T CORRECT EVERYTHING AS IT’S INTENDED TO HELP YOU FIND PARTS YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO AGAIN - NOT AS AN EXACT TRANSCRIPT. SO THERE MIGHT BE A FEW QUIRKY WORDS/PHRASES HERE!

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The first week of may is deaf awareness week, which is why we are visiting an old but popular episode with Nikki Merrick in it. She shares how to make your content more inclusive and specifically how to write descriptions of the images you use in your social media posts and why you should. You're listening to the courageous content podcast. I'm Janet Murray, and I love helping coaches creatives and entrepreneurs create super engaging content that generates leads and sales for their businesses.

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No one starts a business and just knows how to create engaging. Content is a skill that has to be learned in practice. And there's always something new to learn, no matter how long you've been in business. And I know running an online business can feel messy, perfectionism, fear self-doubts and other mindset stuff can stop. You're showing up online in the way that's best for you.

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So you'll get help with that too. Where did you get courageous with your content? Let's get started. I've recently noticed creators writing descriptions of the images or videos in their social posts to make their content more accessible to visually impaired people. Not a lot of people, which we will get into in this episode, but that's enough to make me think it was something we should definitely cover on the podcast in relation to creating more inclusive content.

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But as I'm not an expert on this topic, I've invited one of my clients, Nikki Merrick, to share her wisdom on the topic. Nikki is a textile artist who helps sewists to grow their businesses. So what are the key accessibility problems with social media posts? There were two main accessibility problems or issues. If you like when people are viewing social media,

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people who have a hearing impairment are going to need subtitles for a video and people with a visual impairment are going to need image descriptions to explain what's happening in that post. If it is a visual, either photograph or a graphic, what are your top tips on as in captions or subtitles as they're sometimes called? Yeah. Captions or subtitles can be so easy to add in now.

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So when you're going live, a lot of the social media platforms will have also generated captions and subtitles. They do fill up some interest in words, occasionally, but most people will get the jest of what is being said. No Facebook and Instagram posts auto-generated, but if you're prerecording your video, there are several apps that can do this for you. A website I use is happy scribe.

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That's really, really quick and simple. I have an allowance each month for how many minutes I can upload, and that is done by a computer generated system. So I do go in and edit it quite a lot afterwards because it does make the mistake, but they are intelligent systems. So they learn from the input that you put in and stop making those same errors.

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They do have a professional service. You can pay a little bit more to have a person transcribe it for you. So that can be used if you're very short on time. And then there's web.com and Patwing the really simple to use, just upload your video and it gives you a file for subtitles and captions. Yeah, we use Caplin too, and it's just so easy to use,

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but there are plenty of other alternatives out there. One thing I often find myself thinking, and this comes down to perfectionism, I think is what happens if you make a mistake on your captions or maybe it's not exact, is that a massive problem or is it more important that people get the overall message that you're trying to get across? Yeah, I'm totally with you on this one,

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because I do feel the same sort of perfectionist tendency as myself. And when I'm editing my videos for my website, if it's for my ethics, for a course, for example, I will ensure that everything is absolutely bang on and correct. But if it's just the social media posts, that's going to be there for a few minutes and whoever sees it,

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sees it and then probably no one's going to see it again. I don't think it actually matters as much what it comes down to is communication. And if you can articulate yourself to people who can hear and people who can see or can't do either then as long as you can communicate that message across to them, it doesn't matter if there's a little error.

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If the, one of the words is not spelled correctly, if it says jump instead of rump, they're going to know from the context, what it's meant to say. So I don't think it always matters that much. I think we're both in agreement that if we're putting a video on social media, that we should be putting passions or finding a way to get captions on everything that we put out there,

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obviously it's important for accessibility for those people who are not able to hear our content, but also a lot of people are just thumbing through and scrolling. And so it means that we're reaching more people and our content is going to get in front of more people. What about images and videos that people can't see, I've seen some of these posts where people are describing in quite a lot of detail,

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what's in the picture or what's in the video. Can you talk about those and how you put them together? Yeah. So there's no absolute rule about how you write an image description. One of the most common things I see in what I do myself at the bottom of my chin, which I'm referring to caption, meaning the tax that goes beneath my picture or graphic or photograph I open square brackets,

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image, description, colon, and then I write the description and then I closed the square brackets. And that signifies to screen readers. That is the image description for them to articulate that message to someone who can't see the image, the video, the photograph, and for those people who don't know what a screen reader is. Could you just explain what that is?

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Of course, if you have a visual impairment, some people will use a screen reader and it's a piece of software really that weaves the screen for you and speaks it out loud, either through your speakers or your headphones. And it has a lot of problems when you're looking at websites, it's not really very on trend anymore. People don't use forms and tables the way they used to when designing websites.

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But if you have an old fashioned website, the screen reader just get stuck on those types of things. So there's a lot you can do in terms of design to make it easier for a screen reader to read what's there, there's actually an amazing website with some brilliant resources in it. It's called ability net.org.uk. And they did a little test study with a person with official impairment using a screen reader,

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trying to book an airplane ticket on his mobile phone. And if you shut your eyes and listen to what the screen reader is saying, it gives a massive insight into what it might be like for someone using that device. Wow. I'll put a link to that in the show notes. That sounds really, really useful. So one thing that I often find when I go to write that kinds of description of an image,

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for example, how much detail do I need to go into? Let's say I've got a picture of a lady that's wearing a pink jumper sitting at her desk and writing in a note pad. Is that what I need to write? I think they do vary a little bit. If you're doing the Nimitz description for a photograph of a person or an object,

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then you would need to explain a little bit more about what is going on in that image to convey the message across. Whereas if it's a graphic with a written statement on it, you don't actually need to go into as much detail about what color the background is and what shaped it's decorative text, or if there's a fancy bit at the top of fancy graphic,

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I think you need to include as much information as is required to get that message across. So a lot of the time you'll only have a certain amount of space to write the sand. If you've written quite a lengthy post already as your social media page, you're going to be limited with how much you can include underneath. And the biggest problem I have with this is if I do something like a carousel post,

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where I've got to do an image description for maybe six images, and I would often bring those what's more succinct, or I might put a capsule one sentence at the top that says all six images have a pink background where it's text and a fancy font. Basically, if you can get the message across that's enough, there's no hard and fast rule or law about this.

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And if you ask people with a visual impairment, what they would like to see in that, you're going to get as many different answers as you are. You might have people that you ask that question to, because not everybody's going to agree just because they have visual impairment as a common factor, they're going to have different requirements for what they want to read and an image description.

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Right? Okay. And one thing that I often find myself puzzling over, and this is also when you're writing alt image texts for websites as well is do you name the person say I'm describing a picture of me wearing a pink jumper and sitting at a desk, writing something smiling or whatever do I need to? So with me, they might be neither here nor there,

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whether it's me or whether it's Janet Murray or somebody else. But let's say that it was trying to think of someone famous now, lady Gaga or something like that. Or if it is somebody that the person is likely to know, do you still say the woman or the person, or do you put a name or do you not know the answer? I think if were to do an image description for lady Gaga and write something like the woman is wearing a pink cardigan that might infer that this is not lady Gaga.

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You're talking about that. You're talking about some other woman in the image to use your example as your social media posts. If there's an image of you doing something, you might be stood there, holding a red lipstick, you would write Gianna is wearing red lipstick and holding a bag full of red lipsticks. If it was just someone who's not relative to the store where you would write the woman,

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because it's just a random woman, it's not someone integral to the story. So where someone who's quite well known, like anyone following you on social media is going to know exactly who they're talking about. If it says Johnny is doing this, or Janet is wearing that. Whereas if it's someone that's not likely to know that it's fine to use other words like the woman and the girl demand,

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but what it comes down to is how much information have you already given in the caption? Because what you've got to remember is before the screen meter gets to the image description, it's already read out loud, the actual caption itself. So as a hearing person, we are used to having both the visual image and the written description. So you were already imparting a lot of information in that description and the captions section,

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as long as it makes sense, if it's a caption about something you're doing, and then it just starts talking about the woman, that's not going to make sense. So yeah. Use the name. If the name is known by the person looking at that social media or viewing or hearing that social media page, then use the name. I know what people are going to be thinking.

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It's like how many words is there a minimum word count? Is there an optimum word count? What would you say to that? I tend to make my clients the things I don't go on too much. I don't sort of go into elaborate detail about the colors and the fonts and that kind of thing. Unless it's relevant. If I'm making a post about how to do some graphic design for social media posts and that's well offend,

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I'll give you an example. If you like of some that I use, because like a lot of us, we tend to reuse our graphics on CAMBA and we just replaced the text and the images. I have an app on my Mac called side notes. And on there, I have a list of all the image descriptions that I use on a regular basis.

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Each time I want to use one, I just copy and paste it and replace the tax with whatever has been changed in that image. So if I'm asking my audience a question, I have a graphic that I use where I type the question as part of the graphics. So the screen reader needs to have that information because it can't be seen and mine would be open square brackets and description,

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colon white background image feature. And so in tools with a large purple square graphic in the center inside the purple square it reads. And then it'd be speech marks. What one thing do you hope to accomplish this week? Question marks close speech marks beneath the text. There are three per core question, mark graphics, full-stop square bracket close. And I think anything longer than that,

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people are bored. People with visual impairments get just as bored as anyone else. If I had a lot more to say, if the question I was asking them was what's longer than that, I would remove the bit about the white background image feature in the so in tools I keep in there where I can, because it's relevant to my audience because my audience are people who so,

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so the fact that there are so many tools on the graphic is not mega important, but it's part of the context. And it helps form that image and a person's mind. And I'm guessing it's worth having a look at a few examples. The one that comes to mind is Lucy Edwards. She's a blind lady and her whole account is about her navigating the world as a blind person.

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And I've noticed that she uses these descriptions. So having a look at those, having a look at accounts like yours could be a good place to start. Yours is pink draft. Isn't it? We can link to that in the show notes. Yeah. Most of mine are on Instagram, so that would be pink draft UK. But I started doing this.

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Oh, probably not, not soon enough. If I'm perfectly honest, I was hesitant about starting to do it. I wounded what people would think. I wondered if I was getting it right, but I just went with it. And once I did it, I now do it on every single page and it becomes a habit. It just becomes another thing on that procedures list of things that you need to do to put your content out.

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And it's very easy. If you do miss it off, it's very easy to go in and just add it in afterwards. Has anybody commented on the fact that you were going to the extra effort because let's face, it takes a while to create content. It is another step and it's something else you have to remember. And has it been appreciated? Yes.

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Not by anyone with a visual impairment because my audience generally don't have visual impairments, but I have had some of my clients contact me and go, oh, I've seen that you're doing this image description thing. I really want to do it, but I don't actually know what to do. And my advice has just been, yeah, look at mine, see what I'm doing.

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Just copy it and apply it to your own pace. It is not our decision to make as to whether someone with a visual or hearing impairment needs to read our content. It's their decision to make. They have every right to access that information just like anybody else does. So if anyone's thinking, oh, I don't need to do this because my audience doesn't have those types of impairments my audience.

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So, you know, they create things. It's very visual, but yeah, there are people with visual impairments that say they do, and it's amazing to watch. It's incredible to see what they can create. So yet don't dismiss anybody. What people often forget. And I find as a person with a physical disability, this happens to me a lot.

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I often underestimated people make a lot of assumptions about me. They see me in my wheelchair. They forget that as well as being a woman with a disability, I'm also a wife, a mother, a daughter, a granddaughter. And I have all these other people in my life. I have best friends, close friends, acquaintances. So if someone with a visual impairment sees my posts on social media,

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they might not ever wish to say, but you don't know how many people they know that do. So when that could really use your services, word of mouth is massive when it comes to finding new clients, customers. So don't dismiss anybody because you never know, even if they don't need your services, you don't know who they might know. It has been that I've seen a small number of people do this online,

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but not a huge amount. I don't suppose you have a handle as to how many people are actually going that extra step to add these kinds of descriptions to their images and videos. It's not particularly widespread. There are certain accounts that I know who do it. And people who influenced me. There's a lady on Instagram called Megan. She's very inclusive in her content.

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And there is a company that I follow on Facebook called malt who make bras and tights and leggings. They're based in Scotland and they are extremely inclusive. And they do a lot of work with body image. They use different types of models with physical disabilities and appearances. They feature everybody in them, architects, and they do image descriptions as well. But I can't actually name any other big company.

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That's doing it or small company. It is still quite limited, but it's one of those things. One by one, the more people that are doing this, the more normalized it becomes, and then everyone's doing it. I'm so grateful to Nicki Malbec for sharing her experience on this topic. If you'd like to connect with Nikki, she's over at pink giraffe on Instagram,

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you'll find the link to her website and other socials in the show notes for this episode. Thanks for listening to the courageous content podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on apple podcast or share the episode on social media. That way more people can benefit from the free tips and strategies I share and be sure to tag me in when you do I'm at Jan Murray on Instagram,

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