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 Thursday, 17 January 2013
Emergency 2.0 Wiki, a voluntary body, has developed an on-line Emergency 2.0 Wiki Accessibility Toolkit. This toolkit is tailored for the sensory and mobility-impaired.

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

“The reason for developing the kit is that we’ve witnessed from recent disasters that social media can save lives, but people with disabilities often have difficulty accessing important messages because the social media platforms themselves are inaccessible”, said Richard Corby, Emergency 2.0 Wiki Accessibility Reference Group Leader.

It’s vitally important that people with disabilities, who are the most vulnerable in our communities during emergencies, are empowered to access instant, lifesaving messages through social media and the accessibility toolkit enables this, stressed Corby.

Mr. Corby also mentions that for example the main Twitter website can’t be easily read with a screen reader, a program that reads out information on a screen for people who are blind. In the kit they point users to alternative sites such as Easy Chirp to read tweets. As people tweet in real time, an accessible app such as this can provide immediate notification of when a fire starts or when flash floods hit a town.

Accessibility resources on the wiki include:

  • 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 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, media and business to make social media messages more accessible

In a whole of community approach, the Accessibility Reference Group crowdsourced the content globally using social media. The group consists of professionals drawn from the emergency, government, NGO and business sectors in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

(Source: Emergency 2.0 Wiki)