You’ve probably heard we’re having a fundraiser, with hot perks and even more exciting goals. You might also have questions about Autostraddle, our vision, our plans and how we sustain this queer community on the internet. Or maybe you just want to know what the team sound and look like when we’re talking out loud.
That’s why we’re hosting: What’s on Our Gay Agenda? this Friday, August 7 at 5:30 p.m. PST as part of our fundraiser. Want a chance to have your question answered? You just need to complete a simple form.
Are you still on the fence about contributing to the fundraiser? Have you been a longtime A+ member since 2014? Are you an in-depth reader or occasional monthly parachute drop-in? We welcome questions from all of you!
Fill out the form to submit your question to be answered live by the team. We can’t answer all of your questions, but we’ll do our best to respond to queries that are echoed or repeated and will focus on things that will make for good live discussion!
The event will be transcribed for accessibility purposes and we will post the transcription next week. The question submission form should be screen reader compatible, but if for any reason the form doesn’t work, you can email me your question directly at nicole [at] autostraddle [dot] com. We will not have live captioning or a translator available for this event, but we are exploring ways to offer more moving forward. Thank you! If you have suggestions or questions about access for this event, or can think of anything that would make your experience better, again, please feel free to email me.
It only let me take the survey once, so I will submit my other questions here:
Will there be live captioning and ASL interpretation for this Town Hall? Will captions be added before the recording is posted afterward? Please include accessibility information when posting about events, including online events, even if the access info is “We will not be having live captions and ASL interpreters.” That way disabled people don’t have to do the labor of writing you to ask.
When can we expect Autostraddle to start including image descriptions with all images posted on the site? I am very pleased to see you have started doing this on Instagram!
When will you start providing transcripts for To L And Back and any other audio created by Autostraddle?
Thank you so much for the detailed and specific feedback. We always appreciate hearing what you (and any of our other readers) have to say. And we’re grateful to everyone who has been diligent about commenting and giving feedback because it is helping us to do better.
To answer your first question, yes — the town hall will be fully transcribed. Let me apologize here, before I said “notes” in this post, but the town hall will have transcription posted in a recap that goes up next week. I am going to update the text in this post immediately to reflect this. We will not have live captioning or an interpreter, but are always exploring better ways to do things and are making it a priority to do so moving forward.
Based on vital and important feedback from our disabled readers, both in our most recent readership survey and before hand, we are making other changes to how we publish this website and maintain this community. Some changes we have been able to implement immediately, while others are still forthcoming. We recognize that it’s unfair to ask for your patience, and so we are doing our best to move on our accessibility measures in as timely a matter as possible.
Here is where we are right now:
+ As of two weeks ago, we have started doing alt text descriptions on every image on our site, along any image in our social media. (We’re glad to know you’ve noticed a difference already on Instagram!). Based on your comment today, I am wondering: With our image alt text descriptions on the site, are they not coming through somehow? If so, we’ll need to diagnose the problem and maybe find a new system! Any reader should please feel free to give feedback on this.
+We are also currently working on transcripts for the To L and Back podcast. Our special live event of TLAB, to mark the premiere of Generation Q, was transcribed. We are building our budget to address this as quickly as possible. Any future Autostraddle podcast endeavors will also have transcriptions.
+ We have discontinued the use of form services for submissions and surveys that are incompatible with screen readers.
Accessibility is one of the core pillars of our vision as Autostraddle moves forward into our new chapter. We know we aren’t great at it yet, but we are working on it. We also recognize that accessibility work is an ongoing process and are committed to the continued effort and attention that access initiatives will require. There will be more posted about this on the site in the upcoming months.
If you have questions or feedback you want to give to someone directly, you are more than welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you again for your feedback and for being here!
That is IT. I’m done with being ignored, I’m out. Thanks to @gunna-see-the-light @chandra, @amidola @snaelle and @snowfell for your support in the past,despite how some things turned out but I’m done with this gaslighting lying crap from ”the team”. The only thing I’m glad about is that I didn’t ( COULDN’T, due to inaccessibility/ ”the team” not caring) submit my VERY personal articles to here because I’d have been horrified at being so open on a site that doesn’t give a good goddamn. And before the excuses start: I have emailed 7 times, left at least as many comments requesting help at VARIOUS times on articles, and 2 facebook messages. The ONLY response I got was from 1 ( one) team member who claimed NONE of my messages had been seen, and that if I emailed direct there’d be a way round it. My emails were ignored. When all the racist crap from A – Camp came out, ”the team” claimed to have realised that disabled people were amongst the groups that had been let down, and action would be taken. There hasn’t been. I no longer want a response, largely because I don’t trust ”the team” not to be even more hurtful and damaging.. and there’s already been A LOT. I’m only posting THIS for the other disabled people here who’ve had similar experiences to me. Who I saw posting responses TO me.. and they were also ignored by ”the team”.
Hi Rachel! Thank you so much, again, for your feedback. I just wanted to note here that I responded to your comment below with more information. Again, thank you!
Thank you for your response and all the information you provided.
With regard to the alt text thing: I want to clarify I don’t know if your alt text is working because I do not personally use a screen reader or alt text. I’m not Blind or low vision, so I can literally see images. What I use image descriptions for is to help me make sense of what I’m seeing. I have learned from disabled leaders such as Mia Mingus that it is useful to post image descriptions for each image in both the alt text and in a caption or comment, so the descriptions can reach people multiple ways. So if you could just put whatever you write in the alt text in a caption as well that would be great. Does that make sense?
I’m glad y’all are working on this and committing to centering accessibility moving forward.
This is helpful. We can start working on a system around that. Thank you.
Thank you, Carmen!
fyi, i peeked at the code for 10 featured images on the main page (www.autostraddle.com) and 3 are missing text for the alt attribute. not sure if making a list would help; be happy to if it would…
Hi MsAnon! Thank you. I went through the homepage as well, and found all those links and will be making it a priority to speak with the associated editors today. As Nicole said, we are still learning and trying. It’s a new system we are implementing and that system is subject to human fallibility and forgetfulness. But we’re getting on it as fast as we can!
Thank you again for bringing those links to our attention so that we can improve.
Hi, MsAnon, I just want to follow up and take responsibility for those feature images you’re seeing without alt-text. Those are pieces that I personally edited and didn’t add alt-text to, despite the fact that we made it a company policy to do so several weeks ago. I sincerely apologize for my oversight, which Carmen brought to my attention first thing this morning. I am making it my top priority to get those fixed and commit to making sure I am adding that text on all posts in the future. Thank you for pointing out what was missing and allowing us to correct it.
i was just hoping to help – it’s a-fucking-lot in the world right now. while i don’t currently need these features, i’m grateful you are implementing them. thank you for continuing to try.
I WOULD ask if you’re EVER going to respond to the complaints from your disabled readers, but I’ve wasted enough time and energy on it.
I hear your frustration and thank you for your feedback. As I wrote to Mathilde, accessibility is one of the core pillars of our new vision as Autostraddle moves forward into our next chapter. We know we aren’t great at it yet, but we are working on it. We also realize that it’s unfair to ask for your patience, but we are doing our best to move on our accessibility measures in as timely a matter as possible.
In your previous comment, I responded and shared my email address with you as a direct place to share feedback. But it’s very possible that note got lost in the comment thread, and I apologize if you didn’t receive it.
For you, or any disabled reader who would like to give feedback as we work to improve, you are welcome to email me at email@example.com. Thank you again!
I’m done. I tried to leave a comment but it’s ”awaiting moderation” ( HA!). I’m sure it won’t get posted, because ”the team” will shut down complaints. So, let’s leave a nice, censored version that lets you off the hook, shall we? @chandra, @snowfell, @amidola, @gunna-see-the-light and @snaelle, thanks for your support, genuinely, despite how some stuffs worked out. The fact my complaint is being ”moderated” speaks volumes ( there are no attacks on any groups of people, no slurs) but apparently call outs only work one way. I’m taking my disabled self out of here because none of this is helping. I’ve been isolating since March, have seen people twice, and that’s honestly damaging me less than this is.
Hi! I’m so sorry about the comment moderation. That isn’t a human, but a plugin that catches things that might be spam. You had several links in your original comment, which flags the program. Again, I’m sorry. We do not intend to censor you. I also really do hear your frustration and have spoken with everyone here at Autostraddle. We all encourage anyone who has access concerns to email us and especially me as temporary point at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel, I’m also going to reach out to you personally to connect you with our CEO Riese if you want to talk to her directly about any concerns. We’ve also been planning a forum to discuss access at Autostraddle and will post about it publicly when that is in place. Again, thank you for being a part of this community. You have a right to be angry, but I also hope that now that we have some more people and resources, that we can take steps to make this right.
@nknhall, I say I no longer require a response, and you.. track my email down and EMAIL ME??? And you think that makes me trust ANY of you?? HELL NO. If I wasn’t already done, that would have did it for me.
I’m so sorry to hear about all of this, Rachel. I can’t imagine the disappointment and frustration you’re going through. I have been thinking of you and imagining that the isolation must be very hard on you, and I’m sure it also hasn’t helped that you can’t access the private messaging anymore to stay connected with the people you met here. I hope that with all of the other changes that have been taking place here, your concerns are truly heard and real efforts are made to address them. But I totally understand if you are no longer willing to wait around for that to happen.
I believe you. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been treated this way by “The Team.” You should not have been excluded from and harmed by Autostraddle to begin with, and people ignoring your important critiques only makes matters worse.
I’m also sorry to hear you have been in isolation since March. I have been in varying degrees of isolation for about 3 years due to ableism and lack of accessibility, and it has damaged me greatly. So I am sorry to hear that this treatment from Autostraddle has damaged you even more than isolation. That is terrible.
I agree with Chandra. I hope Autostraddle will do better with regard to disability and ableism going forward, as they appear to be making progress in other areas. And, it sounds like you have decided enough is enough, and that is completely understandable.
@mathilde, thank you for trying to help. I just want to clarify, I’ve had LONG periods of isolation since I became disabled 11 years ago, and all my ”friends” disappeared. I have frequently gone six weeks without speaking to another human, even by phone, let alone in person. I once spent 36 hours solid lying on the floor. When I did ”get up” I ate cold tofu, out of the packet, on the kitchen floor because I couldn’t stand. What COVID has meant is that when I’ve had ”some” mobility I’ve been unable to go to the library/record shops/nature reserve/ anywhere that I could be alone ( HAD to be alone) , but still feel SOMETHING like ‘me’, or whatever ‘me’ is left that isn’t ”the illness”. I can’t wear a mask so I can’t go food shopping because of fear of being attacked, which has happened before b/c I ”don’t look disabled”,both in the supermarket and on the bus, am dependent on donations and my poor health is wrecked due to lack of fresh food etc. I ate potatoes every day for a week. So, I understand your 3 years of isolation and how that fucks up everything. I have nothing to offer you, except my knowledge of that. Knowing so many other disabled people are in the same sinking boat makes things worse. One person is unlucky, thousands is WILFUL governmental and mental negligence.
So, I really hope you, and all the others, get some respite, support, or whatever it is that you need. This site will not be it, for me, nor for the other disabled people who have abandoned it because WE have been abandoned. I will take my righteous anger elsewhere, it is the only thing that is sustaining me and it is too precious a resource to be wasted here.
@malingo I’m sorry you’ve been through such hell. It sounds deeply awful and terrifying. 11 years is so, so long. It is terrible how we are neglected by the government, society at large, and so many communities. I hope you get respite, support, and whatever you need, as well. It is 100% understandable that you are choosing to leave a site that has abandoned you. My righteous anger has saved my life many times, and I am glad you are protecting yours as the precious resource it is. I truly wish you the best.
Hi, I WAS going to ask about the private messaging. In a time when I really, really have the need to reach out to the people I’d call friends, I feel like access to them has really been cut off and moreso, continues to be.
I am really worried for you, @malingo and @snowfell and the only thing I can think of is for you guys to find me on twitter and drop me a dm so I can send you my email address, because I would LOVE to hear how you’re doing and to send you virtual hugs (and possibly real life cookies).
Take care, loves
@amidola thank you. I ”think” I’ve found you on there ( I set up a twitter account specifically to find you) and have commented on one of your posts under another name, letting you know I’m Rachel. I hope we find each other
Thank you to everyone raising accessibility needs & frustrations. Thank you Carmen and Kamala for doing this town hall! I’m so excited for you!!!