Earlier this week, I explained how a new client, George Washington University Libraries, provided me with access to data from their tool, Social Feed Manager (SFM), to better understand how user experience hashtags are being used. Check out that prior post about user experience hashtags for further information on the background of this analysis.

In this second part of the analysis, I used that same dataset and similar methods to investigate how accessibility-related content is being tweeted.


Seed: I selected “a11y” as a core accessibility-related hashtag. SFM then collected every instance of tweets and retweets that included this hashtag. This is a hashtag that I personally have been using since 2013. (While taking up less space than the fully written out “accessibility,” it still signifies the word as there are 11 letters between the first and last letters.)

Dates: I analyzed a dataset that covered exactly 20.5 days, from February 1 at midnight UTC until February 21, 2017 at noon UTC.

Analysis limited to English-language tweets for now: I limited it to tweets that were tagged as “en.”

Findings are preliminary: While the findings from this review should be considered a freeze-frame glimpse, I hope that they provide some insights to the accessibility community on how accessibility-related hashtags are being used and who is using those tags.

Tweets and Retweets are included: For this preliminary analysis, both tweets and retweets are considered as unique elements.

#A11Y is used frequently

The #a11y hashtag was used 10,190 times in this period. Of these, 6157 were retweets so original tweets were made at an impressive clip of 197 per day and combined with retweets, #a11y was used 497 times per day!

Thought: If you want an interesting stream of accessibility related posts, #a11y is the best place to start. When you tweet accessibility-related content, use this tag!

What other tags are combined with the above?

I defined a popular companion hashtag here as one that made an appearance with tweets and retweets at least 100 times. These companion hashtags include: accessibility (1,880), AXSChat (645), ux (624), webdev (372), inclusion (342), PWD (256), csunatc17 (227), gamedev (213), disability (184), appdev (184), crpd (157), blind (137), design (134), disabilities (111), webdesign (107), WCAG (105), uxdesign (104)

Thoughts: It’s interesting that #accessibility is used in conjunction with #a11y nearly 20% of the time. Although it takes up more space, this is likely because #a11y is a key term for those knowledgeable about accessibility, while the word “accessibility” actually written out is better for those who are less knowledgeable about the field. As a ux professional, I appreciate seeing that #ux is the third most popular companion hashtag and that other ux and design terms make appearances in the list too.

Who’s tweeting about accessibility?

A total of 3,632 accounts used or retweeted the #a11y during this period.

  • These accounts have a median of 507 followers and 463 friends.
  • There are 48 verified users among these accounts.
  • The top four accounts with the most followers that used #a11y at least once include: @smashingmag (which also showed up in the top 5 for the user experience related hashtags), @fcc, @zeldman, @Real_Css_Tricks

Where are they tweeting from?

Most popular cities to tweet from—those that showed up at least 20 times after some account-location data cleanup—include: New York (158), London (156), Toronto (67), Washington, D.C. (49), Boston (44), San Francisco (43), Chicago (37), Austin (34), Seattle (33), Manchester (31), Sydney (29), Paris (26), Portland (22), Madrid (22), Berlin (21), Melbourne (20)

(Reminder: This only includes tweets that were tagged with a language of “en” for English.)

What words are used in account profile descriptions?

A total of 3,352 accounts had descriptions and 972 of them included at least one of the following accessibility-related or disability-related keywords: Accessibility (3,384), A11y (187), Blind (180), Disability (142), Accessible (97), Disabilities (82), Inclusion (81), Assistive (60), Disabled (48), Deaf (38)

In addition, a total of 1,917 of the accounts included either the words above or the related-but-not-specifically-accessibility words below: Web (498), Design (468), Developer (311), UX (284), Designer (233), Advocate (128), Research (124), Consultant (96), Specialist (61), User Experience (44), Activist (37)

What’s next?

At this point, a quick glimpse at the data is all that I have time for, but at some point in the future, when time permits, I’d love to delve more deeply into this kind of analysis to understand better how both accessibility- and UX-related topics are being communicated on social media and who it is that is doing that communicating.


Image of fingers opening venetian blind: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek / BigStockPhoto.com