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Deafblind Web Users Engage With Social Media

Social media users are being invited to think about the internet in terms of touch, taste and smell, to raise awareness of deafblindness and encourage deafblind people to use social networking sites, in a project from the deafblind charity Sense.

An online ‘Sensehub’ portal ( http://www.sensehub.org.uk/ ) has been created for Sense on a pro bono basis by advertising and digital agency RMG Connect, allowing visitors to link to sense-based channels on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. On the Twitter channel, for example, visitors can view streams of Tweets which contain words like ‘touch’, ‘taste’ and ‘smell’, while the Facebook link takes visitors to a group which encourages people to tag their photos with sense-based words, rather than just people’s names.

Alessandra Moscadelli, New Media Co-ordinator for Sense, said the Sensehub was created to “promote Deafblind Awareness Week to a young, traditionally reluctant audience, but also to draw attention to the fact that someone who is deafblind has extreme problems accessing a lot of the info on these websites.”

As well as encouraging more deafblind communities to use social networking and pushing developers to create more accessible applications, Sense hopes that the Sensehub will also connect users. “We wanted to link individual web audiences with each other – the audience who already have experience of deafblindness to those who are discovering it for the first time, forming a community to encourage a sharing of content and experiences and further raising awareness”, said Moscadelli.

The Sensehub interface has proved popular so far, receiving around 2,500 hits in ten days, as well as an increase in the hub’s Facebook and Twitter channels. Though difficult to measure at such early stage, Moscadelli estimates that when group links and numbers of ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ on social media sites are considered, the Sensehub may have reached up to 64,000 people.

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