Data has shown that collaboration platforms as the new norm are on the rise. As we shift to this new way of working – which lacks the valuable visual cues that we get from in-person interaction – inclusive and accessible communication is critical to meaningful collaboration.
Here are four things that we can do today in Slack that make collaboration inclusive and accessible for everyone.
1. Provide a short description of images shared in Slack
Uploading an image saved with ‘screenshot’ as its name is not very descriptive. Here’s a quick way to add some context for users of assistive technology.
Step 1: Upload the file and click on the image to expand it – a new window will open.
Step 2: In the top-left corner of the window, select ‘Edit’.
Step 3: Rename the file with a description of the image (no need to add alt text, as screen readers will announce that it is an image).
Step 4: Select ‘Save changes’ and proceed with composing your post.
Note: Alt text at the time of upload is coming soon!
2. Add a caption to GIFs to provide context
We all love a good GIF, and just like emoji, they can serve as language enhancers. Adding a caption will allow users of assistive technology to get in on the fun!
- Step 1: Type /giphy #caption ‘write description here’ [giphy search term] in the message compose field.
- Step 2: You may need to select ‘Shuffle’ until you find the GIF that you’re looking for. When ready, select ‘Send’.
Note: Your new caption is also overlaid on the GIF itself.
3. Shorten URLs with linked text and share what happens when they are clicked
Replacing a long URL with linked text is a great way to save space in a post, but sharing what happens when the link is clicked is a practice that we recommend. Avoid using ‘Click here’ as the prompt. Use something more descriptive, such as ‘Click here to complete the online form’, and then share what happens next.
- Tip 1: Use linked text.
- Tip 2: Explain in the linked text what will happen, e.g. ‘Click here to complete the Slack swag redemption form (opens in new window)’.
- Tip 3: Add the link to the text that leads to it. In the example, it would be ‘Slack swag redemption form’.
4. Alternatives to using emoji as a formatting tool
Before launching ordered list, you may have been using emoji to help break up content in a post, or using them to create headlines or dividers in Slack. Assistive technology will read emoji names one by one. Consider using Block Kit instead to help you craft attention-grabbing posts.
The above message was formatted with emoji, but will be read like this:
4. Use channel naming conventions to provide clarity and context
All companies should have a channel naming convention in place.
Use dashes to separate words and provide context and clarity, which is especially important when channel names are being read aloud via a screen reader.
#sales-announcements-global vs #salesannouncementsglobal
5. Summary of inclusive communication in Slack
- Provide context: Add alternative text if images, gifs and videos are shared
- Be clear: Does clicking on a link result in a file downloading or a new window appearing? Make sure to let the reader know.
- Pause before sending: If you closed your eyes and your post was read aloud to you, would it make sense to you?