Image description: graphic with black text that reads: "ACCESS IS LOVE" with a red heart as the ‘O’ in LOVE.
There is so much people can do when it comes to accessibility! For some of you, this may be the beginning of thinking more intentionally and expansively about accessibility, while for others this may be an opportunity to deepen your understanding of access (see #10 in our list below) or share more about it with the people in your life.
Below you'll find 1) questions you can reflect on and share your responses to on social media or in person with people in your life. 2) A list of basic access suggestions as a place to start.
We also recommend that you check out our reading and resources list to learn more!
Join the conversation:
Using the hashtag #AccessIsLove join our ongoing conversation on access, solidarity, and disability justice as a practice of love. We encourage you to share your thoughts on social media or in conversations with people around you.
Why does access matter to you?
How do you show up for others' access?
Why are access, solidarity, and disability justice a practice of love?
Ways to start: Creating Access
There is so much more people can do when it comes to accessibility. These are just a handful of basic suggestions we offer as a place to start. Access should be a collective responsibility, instead of the sole responsibility of it being placed on just one or two individuals. It is all of our responsibility to think about and help create accessible spaces and community. This is not about everything being 100% accessible to everyone, but rather centering access as a core part of the way that we want to live in the world together--as a core part of our liberation.
1. Prioritize information about accessibility for all your events and workplace.
We know that many of us understand this, but so often it doesn’t translate into practice. Make sure everyone planning your event values accessibility and make it clear from the beginning that including accessibility information on all event information is a non-negotiable. Work to find venues that are accessible--including bathrooms--for wheelchair users and those who need close parking. Send out information about attending scent free and include a link about it on your event page. Have a person or two whose designated job it is to plan for access for the event, and include a way for people to contact you about accessibility.
If you are unable to find an accessible space, it is just as helpful to include this information as well. A simple, “this space is not wheelchair accessible” or “this is not a scent-free space” provides transparency, accountability and can save disabled folks a lot of time.
Make sure the accessibility information about your place of work is included on your website. Make sure there is a document created about your accessibility that folks can either access from your website or that you can send them, if they inquire. Especially if your space is used for events, having accessibility information known and readily available can be extremely helpful. Make sure the people who work in your space also know about accessibility, so that they are able to answer questions about it, if needed.
In general, helping more and more spaces in your area become accessible is also an important action you can take.
2. If you come across an event that does not have accessibility information mentioned, contact the organizers to include it.
This is a small form of solidarity you can practice. It not only helps you to think about access more and more, but it also means that a disabled person does not have to do the work of contacting another event about accessibility. You can message the event organizers or reach out in person if you know them. You can also leave a comment on the event's social media page.
3. Value disabled expertise.
No matter what community you are a part of or are working with, there are disabled people who are part of it. Disabled people are everywhere and you probably know more disabled people than you think you do. Valuing disabled expertise, whether in your personal or work life is key to building an accessible world. Recruit and retain disabled people as part of your organization and leadership. If you have the means, hire consultants who are disabled. Read disabled people’s writing and support their art and activism.
Adding image descriptions to your posts is a concrete form of accessibility, especially in the ever-increasing visually-based online world of social media, where endless amounts of information are shared visually. A world from which so many of us benefit. Because when we are denied access to information, we are denied access to community/connection, to being part of the conversation, to power. (Many of us experience this in different ways: disability, class, race, language, gender, etc.)
Image descriptions don’t cost anything to include and they are a small way to resist ableism. Also, they are not only for disability-related posts (disabled people have lives too) or “easy” posts. Sometimes there can be a lot of information underneath an image and it can take a little longer to type out a description (an event flyer, for example), but it is just as, if not more important to include image descriptions with these posts.
Include both an image description and Alt Text, since there are many people who need image descriptions who do not use screen readers.
Here is a helpful video from Rooted in Rights about how to add Alt Text on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Especially for those of you who have large, public accounts with thousands and thousands of followers (or if this is your goal), you should be including image descriptions.
Shout out to those of you who have started to consistently include image descriptions with your posts on social media on your public and personal accounts. If you haven’t been consistent, now is a great time to start!
5. Make sure video and audio content you create or use has captions and/or transcripts available.
When creating video content, ensure that it will be captioned and have a transcript available with it. Create Alt Text and an image description for it as well that you post with it. If you are creating audio, make sure there is a transcript that accompanies it and that can be easily accessible with it. Many people use transcripts for all different reasons whether they are d/Deaf, hard of hearing, English is their second language, have a hard time focusing on only audio or remembering, or aren’t able to access the audio content at the moment. If you are playing an audio clip for a workshop for example, transcripts can be extremely useful for folks to follow along with what’s being said and can double as a helpful place to take notes and highlight sections they found important or thought provoking.
When writing hashtags, capitalize each word, so that they are easier for screen readers to read. More tips on social media accessibility can be found here.
7. Access Check-ins: Along with names and pronouns, you can include an access check-in when you’re doing introductions.
An access check-in allows people to share any access needs they might have, if they feel comfortable. For example, “I may need to step out of the room from time to time” or “I will often go to the back of the room to do stretches as I listen” or “I need people to speak up when they speak.” This is a useful way to value access and destigmatize it in an ableist culture that hides, shames and individualizes access. This is also a useful way to remind people that everyone has access needs, not only people with disabilities.
It is important to note that many people will not share their access needs and that is okay. This is especially true if people do not have anyone in the room with whom they have access intimacy. We don’t want to replicate a culture of ableism and forced intimacy that disabled people have to endure every day. Never force anyone to share their access needs.
Access check-ins can be a great way to help create a space that values access and disability.
8. Use Content Notices for posts that contain content that may be emotionally taxing, harmful, triggering or traumatizing.
Sometimes referred to as "content warnings" (CW) or "trigger warnings" (TW), content notices (CN) can be extremely useful, especially in today's world where a simple scroll through social media can contain endless mentions of violence, oppression, trauma and pain. Putting a CN at the beginning of your post so people can assess for themselves if they want to read/view it then or come back to it at a better time, is a great practice of accessibility, consent and care. It can also be helpful to include a bit of space between the CN and the beginning of the text of the post.
Examples of CNs can be:
- CN: ableism and medicalized violence.
- CN: white supremacist violence and deportation.
- CN: talk of suicide, domestic violence and addiction.
9. Encourage your people!
We can encourage our communities to become more accessible and to think more deeply about disability every day. If you have a favorite instagram account, but they don’t include image descriptions, message them about it. If you watch a great video online, but it’s not captioned, contact the people or group who made it. Share this website with people as one place to start. Visit our readings & resources page and take some time to learn about accessibility.
10. Expanding What “Access” Means:
We encourage you to read more about accessibility and the many, many disabled communities that exist. We encourage you to understand access as not only about logistics, but about deepening our shared humanity and dignity, growing access intimacy with each other and an opportunity to create more justice and love in our world.
“Accessibility” is not only limited to ramps or captions or braille or scent-free spaces. Accessibility also goes beyond just disability, though we are highlighting disability accessibility here. There are many disabled people who are also queer, trans and nonbinary, indigenous, black, people of color, poor and working class, parents, immigrants and more.
We want to expand our understanding of what “access” means and think about how we can create spaces--and a world--where all kinds of accessibility are centered and valued.
Accessibility can also include the following:
having a sliding scale for fees
online options for participation
flexible time and pace of activities
venues that are close to public transportation
sensory support room
gender neutral bathrooms
no flash photography
being mindful of police and security presence
acknowledging Native communities and the land upon which we’re on
respecting different spiritual and religious practices