For years now, we have been using hashtags to connect with others, run campaigns, research subjects of interest or to connect with other people who share the same views. It's certainly a great tool but I continue to see the vast majority of people on here and other social media platforms are using it in a way that people with disabilities.
Hashtags are often a combination of multiple words and they must be constructed without spaces in order to be recognised by the software. Almost all people and companies leave all the letters of each word lowercase i.e. #diversityandinclusion. For most people, it will not take much effort to recognise the patter in words and decipher the phrase, understanding where one word ends and another begins. However, for many, for many reasons, this is not as easy.
To make the hashtags more accessible, capitalise the first letter of each word #DiversityAndInclusion
Screen readers allow people who cannot see or cannot easily see the word on a screen to understand the content by interpreting it and using synthesised speech to communicate it aloud. If there are no spaces between words in a hashtag, the screen readers are not given the cue that there are multiple words present. Instead, they will usually try to read the phrase as one long word. However, when the first letter of each word is capitalised, the screen readers now have the indication they need and are much more likely to read the hashtag as intended.
Difficulty quickly understanding hashtags is not unique to people who are blind or visually impaired. For anybody who may experience challenges instantly identifying the patter that make up words and the relationship between those words, capitalising the first letter of each word is also a huge benefit. We are taught to read and recognise words and letters a certain way, with spacing or other obvious indicators to help us out. With those cues, many are excluded from the conversation, undermining the wide-spread intention of the hashtag.
While this change may be very small to many, it may mean the world to many, too.
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