PEAT Talks Transcript: Social Media & Job Recruiting–Leveling the “Playing Fields”

Introduction

All right, everyone, it's two o'clock. Let's go ahead and get started with the PEAT Talks. I want to welcome you all to PEAT Talks, our virtual speaker series from the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology. We have these every third Thursday of the month. And PEAT Talks showcases various organizations and individuals whose work and innovations are advancing accessible technology in the workplace. My name is Josh Christianson. I'm the project director for PEAT and I will be hosting today's talk. 

Before we get started, I'm going to quickly review some logistics. You should be able to see the logistics slide up there. We will definitely have time for Q&A at the end. So, please, enter your questions in the chat window you see there. You can put in your questions any time. If you put them in, I may moderate and jump in with them or we may save some time at the end to cover them. But please, we want to make it as interactive as possible, so please use the chat window. You can also use that if you're having any technical difficulties, and we'll do our best to resolve any issues. But you can communicate with our team there in the chat window. 

So you know you can download the presentation, the PowerPoint, on our website if you're having any problems here. And we will archive the recording and post it online following today's event. We'll also be live tweeting today's event. And due to the topic, I would encourage you all to get on Twitter. You can find us at our handle, which is @PEATworks, P-E-A-T-W-O-R-K-S. And feel free to join along. Use the #PEATtalks, that's PEAT Talks with two "t's" and an "s" at the end, #PEATtalks. You can follow the conversation. And be sure and include our presenter, Eliza, who I'll introduce here in a moment, who can be found on Twitter at @e_lizag, that's @e_lizag, and I think we'll see that on a slide here momentarily. 

So we're very pleased to welcome Eliza Greenwood. One of our team members, Corinne Weible, saw Eliza present out at CSUN this year and had the good idea to bring her on this PEAT Talks to discuss parts of her presentation. Eliza is a digital marketer out in Portland, Oregon. She's keen to examine social media's use among people with disabilities as a way to identify marketing opportunities and to keep a pulse on the varying trends across channels. Eliza is launching an accessible training series to help people use social media for career mobility and employment.

In an earlier chapter of Eliza's life, she was a sign language interpreter. She also directed and produced an award-winning documentary titled "Austin Unbound: A Deaf Journey of Transgender Heroism." And she is excited about the user experience discourse as it continues to broaden digital solutions for people with vision impairments as well as those who are aging, living with hearing loss, cognitive and other disabilities. So, today, Eliza will be talking about social media and how that relates to job recruiting. This topic is clearly of interest to us at PEAT because we know from our own studies that people with disabilities are using social media to search for jobs. We know from multiple studies, including a recent one that SHRM did, that we blogged about on our site, that this is just a growing trend. Increasingly, companies are using social media for their brand. Increasingly, they're using it in talent recruiting and acquisition processes. And so making it accessible is very important to us all.

You might have seen LinkedIn's recent purchase by Microsoft, a very big number, making you know that it's valued by companies and it is increasingly used, both in recruiting and for people with professional mobility. Companies like Facebook are jumping in to kind of the work productivity and collaboration space. They're putting together Facebook at Work, which I think needs a new title, but will be interesting to see as there are more and more kind of collaboration tools, productivity tools that these platforms will enter the workplace. I'm sure they're going to continue to grow and we'll see them move in to the employment space. So we're excited to explore this topic. So, without further delay, I'm going to turn things over to Eliza for our speech. Thank you.

Presentation

Thank you so much, Josh. What a wonderful introduction. It's so great to be here with PEAT Works and I'm excited about the work that is going on here. There's tons to talk about. So I'm going to go ahead and jump into my slides. It looks like it's working. That's fantastic. All righty, so slide number one is a picture of me. It says "Social Media Accessibility: Social Media & Talent Recruiting -- Leveling the Playing Fields." And I say "playing fields" because I'm looking at each of the channels as a different field and, you know, of course, leveling the playing field as far as accessibility, specifically in social media. Josh went ahead and gave me a great introduction. Please do go ahead and tweet out to me @e_lizag. And, yeah, I'm looking forward to more conversations.

So, a couple of things to look out for in this presentation today, some terms. "PWD" is short for people with disabilities. "a11y" is known as a numeronym for the word "accessibility," and that's because it starts with an "a" and ends in a "y" and has 11 letters in between. SoMe is S-O-M-E, social media, short for social media. I think that's pretty common among marketers. And then DHH is Deaf & Hard of Hearing. But we had a Twitter chat a couple of weeks ago here with PEAT Talks, and one of the Twitter -- one of the people who joined there said that SoMe a11y didn't seem that intuitive. They thought maybe SocMedia a11y would be better. So I'm interested in a poll here, either on Twitter or here in the chat box, if you think SoMe a11y is more clear or SocMedia a11y is better in terms of Twitter, as far as just talking about social media accessibility. And I've put a tweet out there so you can retweet it or like it based on which one you think is better.

This presentation today is going to provide insight for accessible recruiting across social media channels. We're going to talk a bit about inclusion, which is about reaching your audiences where they are. And the focus is really going to be about accessibility, being aware of the pitfalls across the channels, and making sure your channels are more accessible. We're not going to be looking at the platform issues according to each platform necessarily. There's lots of information out there. There's references, I believe, as well. So, yes, there is a reference at the end where, if you're interested in more about, you know, the different pitfalls of each channel, then you can find more information about that.

Today is more about us as content creators. Since I'm not a developer, I can't speak to how to resolve the technical issues, but I can talk more about, you know, from my marketing perspective, how we can, as content creators, make our campaigns more accessible and our channels more accessible. We're also going to be talking about equality, which involves steps to make sure you're vetting does not discount people based on disability. And I really, really do encourage questions and interaction as well. So I'm looking forward to speaking more with everybody.

So I'm going to start out a little bit here with just why this is important and bringing in some of the conversation from our Twitter chat. We got some good interaction there from a few people about why it's important. And I started out by saying that people with disabilities have lower than average turnover rates. You hire someone with a disability, and statistically you're going to have a better chance that they're going to stick around longer in terms of long-term employment. @Access_Partners chimed in and said, "Why would you risk shutting out 20% of applicants," which is a really great point. That's kind of a standard statistic that a lot of people refer to, that 20% of the population is living with some kind of disability.

I also said that accessibility is a long game, so getting ahead of the curve now is going to cost less money over time. And tying into that, Lainey Feingold said, "Law is a part of business case and inaccessible recruiting practices screen out #disabled applicants," which is absolutely true. It's so important to stay ahead of accessibility from a legal perspective. And it's not cheap, so getting ahead of it now is going to cost a lot less money over time. 

And then I also mentioned that it improves engagement. There's a Facebook study that was released recently that I'm tweeting out a link to, that's also in the references, which mentions that captions increased view time on videos an average of 12%, which is pretty significant. And then the Department of Defense CAP said, "Simple: Creating and fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce," and that was all on the business case, so why accessible recruiting is important.

Going on to the next slide, I'd like to finalize it just by saying, as a branding and PR thing, talent is tuning into company culture. So I have this picture of a Styrofoam cup in a pond, and there's a little, tiny green frog on this Styrofoam cup, kind of perched on it. And the symbolism here is just looking back to how we've come very far in terms of the environmental movement. And in the past, you know, it was harder to recycle and harder to kind of be conscious of these kinds of issues that we're facing with our environment. And I'm really seeing that accessibility is going to be moving along a similar trajectory where you wouldn't want to be out there buying Styrofoam cups and putting your logos on them. From a PR perspective, that might make your company look really bad.

I mean, here in Oregon, for example, we've taken it to an extreme. We even have compostable -- we have city composting. So they come to our curbside -- they're coming today actually -- to pick up our compost and compost our food scraps. So we've really come a long way here in Portland. And I'm kind of imaging this wonderful trajectory for accessibility as well where taking it in is going to be a lot easier for everybody, and it has to start with us, and it is getting easier as we move along. So the slide says, "Launching inaccessible campaigns is like placing a bulk order of Styrofoam cups emblazoned with your company logo."

And finally, we want to do the right thing. This is a statistic from the U.S. Department of Labor, their May unemployment rates. People with disabilities had a 9.7% unemployment rate. People without disabilities, 4.3%. And I check this website with some frequency, and this is pretty typical where people with disabilities have over two times the unemployment rate as people without disabilities. So I'd love to see that bridge gapped.

And we get into this end goal of equity, so talking about combining inclusion, accessibility and equality is really all for equity. And there's this fantastic meme that started circulating in 2012, I believe, and then there were all these iterations. And I have another iteration later on in the deck, and then references as well for how it kind of started and where it went. It's a really great meme. So I'll go ahead and explain it to you.

It's got two panes, like cartoon panes; right? And on the bottom of the left pane it says the word "Equality." And it pictures three people who are standing at a baseball game, wanting to enjoy a baseball game. And there's a fence between them and the game. And the people are at different heights. So there is the tall person on the left, and then in the middle there's an average height, and on the right there's a short person. And each of these people have a block or a crate that they're standing on. So the tall person has kind of a higher, like -- I mean, really high up, excellent view. The average height person has a good view. And the short person doesn't have a view at all because they can't see the baseball game over the fence. And, like I said, underneath that is the word "Equality." 

And then in the next pane, on the right, it's labeled "Equity." And in this case the tall person doesn't have a block that they're standing on at all and they can still see the game fine. And the average height person has one block that they're standing on and they can still see the game fine. And the short person has two blocks that they're standing on, and they can see the game just as well as the other two can. And so that's kind of a visual signification of the differences between equality and equity, and just my reminder that it's about not just equality, not just accessibility, not just inclusion, but a mix of all of those things as we work towards greater equity. 

Moving on to the next slide here, we're talking about inclusion. And this is where I get kind of excited as a marketer because I'm really interested in the data of how people are using social media, specifically in job seeking. Glassdoor had a statistic from 2015 that said 79% of job seekers use social media in their job search. And 40%, according to PEAT, of job seekers with disabilities experience accessibility or usability issues with social media. So we're seeing a big gap here. And I have a rhetorical question there of "If you have a single-channel recruiting effort, is it biased against people with disabilities?" So, for example, if you're just recruiting on Instagram, are you leaving anybody out? 

And that concerns my inclusion survey, which I ran in 2015 at CSUN. And there's a picture of me with two of my survey respondents, John and Larry Gassman. And I went ahead and presented it. I saw them again [inaudible] picture [inaudible] at CSUN in 2016. And here's the data findings, and there's a link with more information available as well. Basically, what it says is that Facebook use is really high among people in the deaf and hard of hearing communities. And very high among -- and Twitter is very high among people in the blind and with low vision, but really low among people who are deaf and hard of hearing. And then LinkedIn is higher among people with vision impairments, but really low among deaf and hard of hearing. There's no surprise that Instagram is really low among blind people and really high among deaf and hard of hearing people. So this is kind of some pointers to think that if you're just using one channel to do all of your recruiting, you may really be leaving people out, and that's the inclusion piece that I wanted to point out. 

So I have a moment for check-in here, but I do want to keep things moving. I'm about halfway through my slides. So I think we're doing okay on time. And I want to take this moment just to remind people in the chat to please go ahead and bring in your thoughts and questions there in the chat. Okay.

So, now, moving on to accessibility. This portion of accessibility is going to be about platform innovation and then content tips. And I'm really interested in those people wanting to tweet out about social media accessibility innovations or tips that they're using these days with the #PEATtalks. As far as platform innovation goes, the challenge that many of us face, whether we're working with disabilities or not, is that there's just content change. And that's something that, you know, it can be a blessing and a curse with content change.

The progress, there's a lot of great things going on with the progress. Just recently, in March, Facebook released automatic alternative text. So it's improving its technology to be able to recognize pictures. And, you know, they're still a work in progress. They're not super detailed as far as I understand from the users that I've talked to. But they're providing a little more context about the pictures that are being posted on Facebook, which is really fantastic.

And then on Twitter, also in March, they composed -- they implemented "compose image description," which is a setting that you can turn on on your Twitter -- now it's available on desktop as well -- where you can actually add alt text or image descriptions to your pictures that you tweet out, which is a really fantastic feature. And of course, my question with this week's news from LinkedIn that they're being acquired by Microsoft is, you know, a hopeful one. Hopefully they have some good accessibility features that they're going to be rolling out as well.

As far as publishing, the basic pro tips across channels is to work in captions and image descriptions every time, as much as you can, and, of course, to provide transcripts and captions. I think the jury is out on avoiding abbreviations. I understand that for screen reader users, abbreviations can be really cumbersome and confusing. But I think that for people with other types of disabilities, abbreviations can actually be helpful. So that makes it a bit tricky to please all and find complete universal design, but knowing your audience and making sure that everyone is covered is an important thing when you're publishing for accessibility on social media.

That last slide had a picture of the closed caption symbol on it. And this next slide has a little kitten in a box because we all need fuzzy feelings when we're in our day-to-day lives. And I get fuzzy feelings when I'm publishing with accessibility in mind. A couple of tips for Facebook and YouTube. On Facebook, the transcript for videos are difficult, so you want to put in a link, or put it in the comments, whatever your transcript for your videos that you're posting are. And then also refer to YouTube for videos from Facebook. And on YouTube, there -- it's really good to provide audio descriptions and also to be aware of auto-play. So, I mean, everyone's probably experienced this, when I go to YouTube and then the video starts playing automatically, that can be confusing as well.

Another pro tip slide here with puppies this time for our fuzzy feelings about accessibility is for Twitter and LinkedIn. On Twitter, there are settings for color contrast. So you can check your profile theme settings. And what you have your settings on will affect the way that somebody else sees your tweets and your messaging. And if the color contrast is poor, then not everyone is going to be able to see it. Also hashtags, some folks suggest putting them all at the end is really important. Also, Camel case, I tweeted out an example of Camel case. You can take a look at how Camel case works and imagine how it helps people with low vision to be able to see exactly what it is that is being conveyed in a hashtag, for example. And on LinkedIn, of course, there's always issues because it's a space for sharing articles and whatnot. Being aware of accessible PDFs and remembering who all is at the table and who's not at the table.

So those were my thoughts on accessibility and recruiting, and I'm moving on to equality here. As far as hiring goes, 39% of hiring managers screen using public social media profiles. So this is talking about in terms of vetting, right, vetting a candidate. And that was a statistic from SHRM, S-H-R-M. Another key statistic from them is that 27% have disqualified job candidates because of concerning information that they found online. So how does that play into the accessibility and equity [indiscernible] here? 

The thing to be really aware of as you're researching candidates is that you don't want to allow personal characteristics, including disabilities, of any candidate to influence your hiring decision. So if you look at somebody's Facebook and you see -- I mean, just like you're not going to be wanting to look for any indication of religion and let that influence your hiring decision, or race or any of those other things protected by the EEOC, you also want to make sure that any indication of disability is not going to influence your hiring decision. And one safeguard is to wait to review social media presences until after you've met the candidate, and also to conduct identical searches and the plan hiring process for each applicant. So once you've got everyone and you've met the number of people that you're really considering, then, after that, you look at their social media presence to see if their social media presence is consistent with a type of candidate that you would be looking to hire.

Those are my takeaways from inclusion, accessibility, and equality, reaching towards equity. And here's that meme that I promised, which is about combining your recruiting efforts to include people with disabilities. So it's a similar kind of a meme. It doesn't have the words at the bottom, but there's the left square with everybody has one block, the tall, the average, and the short people each have a block. And then the middle one where everyone can actually see the game, and the short person has two blocks. And then over on the right where the fence has been changed and now it is a -- so it's still a fence, but it's a grid type of a fence, as opposed to a wooden, hard-to-see-through fence, and so no blocks are needed. And that's the utopia that I dream of. 

There are lots of references here, like I mentioned, which I hope you go ahead and download my slides. They're available on the PEAT website as well as on my website, elizagreenwood.com/peat. Thank you so, so much. And please follow me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

Thank you Eliza. I wanted to follow up that last meme you were talking about. I think it's a great example/metaphor, especially for accessible technology. We oftentimes -- there's a lot of overlap and interplay between assistive and accessible technology that is super important and plays into the world of accessible technology, but I think that clear fence really demonstrates it well where something is designed so that people do not need -- people of different abilities do not need something else added on, they don't need a block to stand on. They can just see and participate from the get-go because it's included. So I really like that slide. Thank you. That's a good illustration.

I want to encourage folks, too, if you have any questions for Eliza, we have about five minutes. I've got some in mind. But to use the chat function if you'd like to give questions. I also have seen she's been sharing some very good resources on Twitter during her conversation. Very impressive multitasking. But, of course, check out #PEATtalks on Twitter to see some information there as well. But Eliza, I'm curious -- I don't necessarily want to put you on the spot, but as I think about -- I alluded to the growth of kind of these social media platforms, they're gaining a lot of traction in recruiting, and I'm wondering if you, and other folks maybe can chime in too, can see how they might play into other parts of the employment arena? How might platforms like these, will they or could they be used in the future for people that are doing their job?

So, in terms of other cycles of the employment phase, recruiting, yeah, we definitely covered recruiting and social media accessibility today. Hiring and onboarding we got into a bit. Work immersion and productivity, goodness, you could get creative with how to use social media and work immersion and productivity. And I imagine people are [inaudible] incentives and gamifying things. With career advancement as well, I mean, networking is the number one thing that comes to my mind. Using LinkedIn and other social media platforms to align with folks that you're wanting to work with or mentor or become a mentee to. And, you know, retention as well, being a company that shows your brand and puts yourself out there on social media is something that people are valuing more and more. Post-employment and retirement, sure, a way to keep connected and share wisdom with future generations. Those are my thoughts off the top of my head about how social media continues to play a role in the employment life cycle.

I could also see just, like, the platforms growing so that they, not necessarily as they are now, are used employment, but they may -- you know, just like LinkedIn kind of grew into what it is professionally. And as I mentioned, you know, Facebook is looking -- and I'm blanking on the name, but there's some Internet kind of communication sites, you know, that sometimes companies use to discuss ideas and collaborate. And so a lot of similar platforms, and a lot of the similar issues around accessibility, I imagine, cross over those.

Yeah, it's true actually. And a lot of people are saying that with -- you know, speculating about how it's going to go with LinkedIn and Microsoft, and how there's going to be even increased integration there. 

Yeah, which would be great to see. PEAT recently hosted a conversation. And Jenny Lay-Flurrie -- I'm probably butchering her name -- but their new Chief Accessibility Officer was there, and she is so gung ho about taking the products of Microsoft and making them accessible. It's exciting to see. And maybe they'll take that into LinkedIn.

Yeah.

I don't -- one more question, which is pure speculation. I'd encourage people to type in their own answers, as I'm not sure a lot of them haven't. But I loved your stat about the captioning of the video and that that made it -- more people clicked on those videos -- more people viewed the videos if it had captioning. And I've always -- you know, people oftentimes refer to, "Oh, isn't captioning nice when you're walking past an airport bar or you're somewhere and you're able to see it?" But there must be something else about captions that makes people click on them and it's like they prefer to read it. So I'm wondering if you or anyone else here has ideas of why would that accessibility feature make it more compelling ostensibly to people of all kind of abilities and backgrounds. I don't know if you have any guesses? I don't, but I find it very intriguing.

I think it's intriguing, too. I mean, I use the captions at home regardless of what's going on. I know it's better for literacy across the board. So, you know, having captions on everywhere is a fantastic thing. Having the captions on if you're in an office, for example, I imagine some people may not, even today, may not be listening to this presentation but maybe they're just reading along because it's less disruptive to their workplace. So I think captions -- I love the stat about 12%. And you know, video, they say video increases posts four times. So video is becoming popular and it is the way of the future. So adding captions on top of that, that's icing on the cake there.

It's a good place to start -- I mean, to end for the day because I think one of the things we always push is that making things accessible, you know, we are focused on it so that it helps people with disabilities get jobs, but it really gives you the best product, you know, and it makes it the most usable for everyone. So it's always a good plug for a universal design and accessibility in general.

Conclusion

Well, thank you, Eliza. Thank you folks that joined on. Please get on Twitter and continue the conversation, or check back in. We will post an archived video of this later that you can use and share. Before we leave, just wanted to remind folks that we do this every month, the third Thursday of the month, at 2:00 PM. So please stay in touch and register for future ones. Have a great day.

All right. Thank you.

Bye-bye, Eliza.

Bye.