Ways to make posts more accessible for neurodivergent folks June 29, 2021 2:55 PM   Subscribe

FPPs whose links are only to videos aren't very accessible to many neurodivergent people. Many people aren't aware of this. Wondering how to make things better here on Metafilter.

I just came across an FPP on the blue on a technical topic that linked out only to YouTube videos... no text articles. It's possible that no text articles are available, but the topic is hot enough not to warrant that conclusion.

As an autistic person with likely ADHD, I find having to listen to 10 minutes of video (X n videos) enervating. If the audio is reasonably paced and there are some text "breaks" AND captioning, as opposed to looking at and listening to a rapidly talking head with no captions for 10 minutes, it's easier to some extent.

Overall, I process text a lot faster and more effectively than what I get out of being talked at.

It would be nice to have links to text articles, if available, in the body of the FPP IN ADDITION TO video links (not in place of all of them).

Obviously we expect certain content (music videos for example) not to have a text equivalent.

So what am I asking for?
  1. It would be great if other neurodivergent folks could contribute to this post as to which accommodations make content more accessible to them. One size does not fit all.
  2. Maybe include some recommendations in the post guidelines based on the input here?
posted by Sheydem-tants to Etiquette/Policy at 2:55 PM (26 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

Not neurodivergent, but.. Something that everyone could appreciate would be more video links that go directly to the heart of the matter. I.e. timestamp links.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:06 PM on June 29 [16 favorites]


One thing I sometimes find useful on YouTube is to click the little "..." button (next to "save") and choose "open transcript." The transcript viewer is small, and the quality of the transcript is only as good as the captions (so potentially high quality if the video has professional captions, otherwise variable if YouTube has auto-generated it). I can read the transcript to see what the video is about, click on specific times to jump to that part of the video if something seems interesting, then go back to reading on in the transcript if the video is dragging.
posted by zachlipton at 5:08 PM on June 29 [7 favorites]


We were talking about a related issue ( long video as sole front page post link) here a few weeks ago. Might be worth reading over.
posted by Mitheral at 5:27 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


I'm an autistic person, and I just skip over video-only posts for the most part. Same for podcasts. If there's a transcript, I'll read that; otherwise I'll either google the topic to find another source, or hope that the discussion here is detailed and animated enough that I can pick it up through second-hand context. :) But I don't want to be prescriptive and say people should/should not frame a post around specific media types. Metafilter is a place I visit and not all of it is for me, and that's okay! Sometimes that's just the way it's gonna be. That being said...

I like the Posting Guidelines as they are re: behaviors, and I know there was a lot of work done there recently, but I think Sheydem-tants is right that there's room for something more structurally-focused. I feel like a "Post Accessibility" document would be great, because you could list out different formats and sources and how they support or hinder certain audiences. I'd be interested in working on this.

Also, Hardcore Poser, yes, timestamps are wonderful and I wish more folks utilized them (either explicitly in links or just saying "it's at about the 10 minute mark").
posted by curious nu at 6:13 PM on June 29 [14 favorites]


An additional accommodation that some people use, mentioned in a past MeTa thread: some disabled and/or neuroatypical folks prefer ThreadReader-type links instead of reading threads in the original Twitter interface.
posted by brainwane at 8:13 PM on June 29 [9 favorites]


I didn’t know about that transcript trick, zachlipton, thank you!

As another ND person here, I’m really appreciative when posts either directly link the transcript or state up front that there isn’t a transcript. I would rather not spend time digging around looking for one only to be disappointed and end up skipping the video anyway.
posted by Stacey at 4:22 AM on June 30 [6 favorites]


I feel like a "Post Accessibility" document would be great, because you could list out different formats and sources and how they support or hinder certain audiences. I'd be interested in working on this.

Thank you and count me in as well.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:54 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see the links in posts have a line telling you where they are going. I click on a lot of things, find myself in a video and simply click right back again. I also click on a lot of things and discover they are paywalled, or are blocked by my adblocker and click right out again. The worst are the ones that lead to some very interesting text and/or images, I start reading, get well engaged and arrive at "Subscribe to continue reading this article!"

My feeling is that all of these are related problems. I wish there was a simple technological way to label every single link with information as to if they were going to be viable or not. But I can't picture a way this would be possible. Someone with a subscription to the Callibrach Times is not going to remember that it is one of their 17 on line subscriptions when they come across a fascinating feature article. A lot of people would rather not post than sort out which descriptions to include (paywall, adblock, trigger, video, audio, us politics, wall'o'text, facebook etc.) and if we make it an expectation that they have to do it, there will be inevitable mistakes and complaints and bad feeling. But if we put adding or checking descriptions on the list of duties that the mods have to look after, it puts a big burden on them and will increase the chances that the mods become gatekeepers to reduce their work load - it will be much easier to simply to delete an article that is an edge case than to go through testing the site to make sure that all the descriptors are covered.

Transcripts are also not a perfect solution and quite often not even a viable one. I have taken some Coursera classes and then had to withdraw from them because the AI that did the transcript provided me with an impenetrable wall of text liberally studied with homonym errors and inaudible markers.

So I don't think there is a good solution to this. The problem only seems to be getting worse as different sites handle their data in different ways that cater to specific users as the expense of others.

I don't feel discriminated against when people post links that aren't usable for me. I never click on links that lead to sports stories because sports is just not interesting enough for me to click on it. When I hit a link that leads to audio, or video with moving special effects or to a site that requires a subscription I just figure its the same as that. Okay, this is a group that is into college baseball, or is only for people who subscribe to a subset of American newspapers. I feel alienated instead of excluded. I went from feeling like a part of MetaFilter to feeling like someone who observes it from the outside. It doesn't make sense to me though, to ask for change, any more than it does to walk into a group of people discussing college baseball and inform them that we are now all going to discuss neolithic pottery instead of baseball because discussing baseball excludes me.

I'm going to add as my final note, that I assume the experiences of other neurodivergent people on this site are not even similar to mine. Just because I feel like I am picky instead of facing discrimination doesn't mean that there is no discrimination. And I would like to be disappointed by fewer posts and links turning out to just be click bait. It would be awfully nice if I wasn't grimacing and hitting the back button so often.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:27 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


curious_nu: I'm an autistic person, and I just skip over video-only posts for the most part.

I am pretty neurotypical, and I am with you! High five!

I hate video on principle, unless it's an unusually good video qua video: video goeis slower than I can read; video usually requires audio (which I don't always have); video is hard to watch on a phone versus my nice big monitor, whereas text reflows; video is hared to translate; i can't pullquote video; etc., etc.

And don't the guidelines advise against single-link posts?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:50 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


The guidelines say single-link posts are good (and I, personally, tend to prefer single link/short posts)! FAQ 48:
Posts shouldn't be terribly long, and they don't have to contain multiple links or end with a discussion-sparking question.
posted by skynxnex at 9:49 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


One of the problems, from a posters point of view, with trying to advise on content blocks is so much commercial content is region locked and there is no way to determine that or even realistically deliminate it.
posted by Mitheral at 10:22 AM on June 30


One of the problems, from a posters point of view, with trying to advise on content blocks is so much commercial content is region locked and there is no way to determine that or even realistically deliminate it.

This is kind-of solvable though, right? Some stuff is always region-locked - I know I see comments come up often about some sources - and that could be added to our accessibility document (or some other document -- even the wiki, probably). When it's some random youtube video no one would expect, it gets sorted out in the comments pretty quick. That feels good to me -- being mindful ahead of time when you can, being generous and collaborative when something surprises you.
posted by curious nu at 12:02 PM on June 30


some disabled and/or neuroatypical folks prefer ThreadReader-type links instead of reading threads in the original Twitter interface

QFT

I've tried to add ThreadReader links to Twitter-heavy posts that I came across. I've noticed, however, that ThreadReader can't always pull those threads - it looks like folks are starting to block the account(s) used to assemble those links.
posted by hanov3r at 12:35 PM on June 30 [4 favorites]


I'd love to see the links in posts have a line telling you where they are going.

I asked for this some time ago, in my own case because of hand pain. It was also pointed out that it's also a good idea because some links will eventually die, and you'll never know what someone meant by "Your answer is this" rather than "I really like the ACME coffee maker." I pretty much never click on mystery links.

In fact, I used to love Arts and Letters Daily, but have given up on it because they never tell you what publication they're linking to, so you might be using up one of your monthly articles from some site you like or get sent to a website you have no access to for one reason or another.

(I'm neurotypical, but I'm pretty much never going to watch a lengthy video or even a short video just because I resent how much time they take up. Give me an article I can skim and then read carefully if it seems worth it.)
posted by FencingGal at 1:03 PM on June 30 [5 favorites]


I'd love to see the links in posts have a line telling you where they are going.

I used to be very pleased when folks would add "[SLYT]" after YouTube links, because I would be able to avoid clicking them on my phone. (Or, to be honest, on my laptop!)

Having a few select sources automagically tagged that way -- say, YouTube, New York Times, Twitter, and FaceBook -- would be really helpful. Would that be a heavy lift for the "New Post" page?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:27 PM on June 30


have given up on it because they never tell you what publication they're linking to, so you might be using up one of your monthly articles from some site you like or get sent to a website you have no access to for one reason or another.

I used to be very pleased when folks would add "[SLYT]" after YouTube links, because I would be able to avoid clicking them on my phone. (Or, to be honest, on my laptop!)

I feel like I'm missing something here but all standard browsers allow you to see the url if you hover over a link. Safari is the exception but only because you need to enable the status bar. On a phone if you long press a link it'll give you the same info in a popup.

screenshot
posted by simmering octagon at 2:00 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I can't see your screenshot simmering octagon, because for the last ~ 9 months Imgur has blocked me from seeing any content whatsoever, regardless of whether or not I'm in private mode. The header loads normally, then within a fraction of a second blackness sweeps over the entire screen below the tab bar.

I have no idea why; the only use of Imgur I have ever made is looking at things mefites have uploaded.
posted by jamjam at 6:14 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Click-and-hold is more effort than just clicking the link -- and I don't want to have to investigate Mystery Meat even more than I don't want videos.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:53 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


I feel like I'm missing something here but all standard browsers allow you to see the url if you hover over a link.

Mobile Browsers don't do "hover" well.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:01 AM on July 1 [9 favorites]


ThreadReader can't always pull those threads - it looks like folks are starting to block the account(s) used to assemble those links.

A lot of people don't like the fact ThreadReader puts in their own ads and makes money out of content other people create on Twitter, without their consent. I guess I can see that, especially with people who make money out of their writing otherwise.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 4:45 AM on July 1 [5 favorites]


wenestvedt, you might benefit from reading the past thread; I think that accessibility should be thought about differently than preference, and saying "I don't want to watch videos" is very different than saying "I want to engage with video content; here's how I can:".
posted by sagc at 7:49 AM on July 1


All of these are great ideas to make threads more accessible. I also don't think it's a good/practical idea to expect posters to go through an explicit list of requirements before posting. There have been many threads on MetaTalk about how people are discouraged from posting because of the high expectations and I would be worried about anything official making it worse.

One trend I've seen lately on Reddit is that after someone makes a video or image post that isn't accessible, someone else will comment with a text summary and some accessible links like ThreadReader/etc. This obviously puts the burden on commenters, but it is a flexible option that we could maybe encourage within the community. One problem with the Metafilter setup is that in Reddit those comments will get voted up so always appear at the top, but here they probably won't be an early comment (those are the emotional hot takes) so will get buried deep in the thread. Right now I would kind of feel weird about posting a multi-paragraph text summary of a video link because it doesn't match a "typical MeFi comment"

I wonder if some sort of simple site-level feature could be a good option here? Have a way for users to flag their comment as an accessibility feature, and push those to the top of the thread with some simple formatting to highlight and a way to disable? That way the original poster could also add accessibility annotations after post. I doubt this would get abused very often in this community as long as we make it clear it's for accessibility and not making a point. I think it could also encourage a feeling of commenters working WITH the original poster instead of complaining about what they did wrong
posted by JZig at 9:31 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


sagc, I did read that thread, thank you.

saying "I don't want to watch videos" is very different than saying "I want to engage with video content; here's how I can:". What i was getting at is that posts with links to long videos aren't going to serve all MeFites (e.g., the poster, here, from necessity, as well as people like me who opt out). And while I can, indeed, always just pass on by, if the population of excluded readers is high enough, then maybe we could add some automation to help include those readers -- like an automated link to the transcript/subtitles, or tagging it so that some readers can wait on the post until they've got the right tools available, or whatever.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:57 AM on July 1


As another neurodivergent person with a strong bias towards text & reading for information consumption, I'm almost never going to watch a video, and I tend not to find reading transcripts as satisfying or easy to consume compared to text that's been written with reading in mind (as opposed to text generated from spoken language). When something's been written for the page rather than converted into a transcript, there's generally less filler, the writing flows better, and the article usually gets to the point faster.

I'd definitely appreciate it if people making posts centred around video content could also try to find a text article or blog post that covers similar ground, in addition to pointing to transcripts. I know I can walk on by without complaining if an FPP is not for me, and I almost always do, but there are occasionally video-only or video-mostly posts made about topics that I'm very interested in and would like to engage with or learn more about, and having a relevant blog post or piece of journalism included as an alternative resource would be awesome in those scenarios.
posted by terretu at 2:59 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]


So I've been working on a basic how-to-make-more-accessible-posts document and I'm running into a couple of snags.

1) It seems that video & audio accessibility tips are pretty much the same: include transcripts (and CC in case of video), link to text articles on the subject, provide timestamps for the best parts and/or for good chapter breaks.

2) Other than including links to audio or video, I'm not sure what else a person can do for text. If it's an image-heavy article you can indicate whether there is/isn't image descriptions.

Everything I'm coming up with can boil down to: have multiple formats, at multiple lengths, and if it's image-heavy it should have good audio description. Provide timestamps/bookmarks as appropriate.

I'm finding a lot for how to create something with accessibility in the forefront, but that's a different thing from us sharing links. :)
posted by curious nu at 8:00 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]


curious nu: for long text articles/pages, I think it's sometimes also appropriate to provide a summary, or (as I did here) give a kind of table of contents with summaries of the sections in the linked-to thing.

In case a post author wants to write image descriptions for images that don't have descriptions already, I saw a link to a good resource on how to do that well. Relatedly it'd probably be good to dig up guidance on emoji usage to check that screenreaders don't have trouble with emoji.

A more difficult thing can be to try to write in plain language. For example, Pro Publica published a story in a few translations, including plain language, for accessibility reasons. That kind of writing isn't just about using shorter sentences or more broadly understood words -- structuring or translating prose to be more accessible is a whole craft that I don't really know as well as I would like. Sometimes I try to structure and write a post or comment for skimmability, boldface key words, use short paragraphs, and use clear explicit structures such as subheadings in the interests of cognitive accessibility. The more of us who do these things on MetaFilter, the more of us will feel comfortable doing them more often and get practice reading how others do it too.
posted by brainwane at 9:10 AM on July 4 [5 favorites]


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