Microblogging

Microblogging is similar to blogging in the way that a user publishes information, although in this case the content that they are publishing is generally much smaller and may be known as individual micropostsTwitter is the most popular example developed in USA and Weibo in China, allowing users to publish 140 character sentences as their posts. Users can follow each other, which means that they are updated whenever someone makes a new post. As this is really just a scaled down version of blogging, features such as rich text editors are not required, which means that microblogging is generally more accessible. The smaller scale also means that microblogs can easily be accessed from mobile devices.

Considerations

  • Twitter has improved its accessibility but you have to accept the lists of options when registering. It may take time if you are using a screen reader but once registered it works well on mobile and desktop technologies.
  • Accessible Twitter now called Easy Chirp, is an alternative to the main Twitter site that provides a more accessible interface. It still uses the main Twitter service, but is optimised for screen reader and keyboard only users by providing features such as keyboard accessible links.
  • Microblogging has no message threading. This can make it very hard to follow a subject based discussion especially if other messages come in between. There is a search feature, but it can bring up many random results.  Be aware of the importance of keywords and context in all messages and you may want to use a third party application such as Chicken Nugget or Night Owl for Mac OS as advised by the American Foundation for the Blind.
  • Use of abbreviations and contracted language with images. This can affect readability and issues for those using screen readers.  Try to keep to conventional abbreviations wherever possible and remember alt text for images.
  • URLs should be recognisable if possible. Try to keep to the full web address if possible, although in many cases a shortened URL using the Twitter option or a service such as TinyURL  is the only way to complete the message within the 140 characters.
  • Be careful about advice on software tools that interface microblogging sites.  Although you may have chosen an accessible web tool for your microblog, there are many third party software tools that are used to interface with the microblog that are not as accessible.  However, it is possible to use a tool such as Twinbox that works in Outlook which may be easier for some. Twitterrific may be more accessible for iPhone, and iPad users.

Additional Resources