Accessibility in the Fediverse (and Mastodon)

Many people think about moving or at least establishing a presence in the so-called Fediverse. The Fediverse is (and this is probably a very shortened and incorrect) a collection of distributed web applications that can talk to each other. The most well known software is Mastodon, which is installed on many servers.

Now, because it is such a distributed system, the accessibility around the Fediverse is not super consistent either. But there are all the important foundations there, including the possibility to add alternative text for images.

Mastodon is a good place to dive into the Fediverse as it mimics Twitter quite closely: Followers and Following, Boosts (like “Retweets”), and Stars (like “Likes”). If you want to sign up for a disability/accessibility friendly instance, I can recommend toot.cafe, which tries to be as inclusive as the underlying software allows. There is also dragonscave.space, which is run by blind admins1 .

Sarah Higley has a very good step-by-step introduction on how to sign up to Mastodon, including server recommendations.

I, personally, have used micro.blog in the last couple of weeks, which deliberately does not support most of the standard Twitter and Mastodon functionality. I can’t even see who follows me. My toot.cafe profile still exists, and I’ll likely keep it (because it looks like it is easier to find for people), but it looks like it won’t be my primary way of posting in the future.

Should you join the Fediverse?

Yes, but not for the reasons that you might think of. It’s important to have options. And locking oneself into one social network is never good. Options are. Twitter has helped the web community to grow together like no other social network before. But it is in the end a closed system, which is antithetical to the web.

By opening a profile on Mastodon or somewhere else in the Fediverse, you can participate in more diverse places than before. And they all communicate with each other. It’s powerful, and if there is a new boss in your instance who brings a sink into a building for no reason, you can switch to another instance (with some issues).

Some accessibility people on the Fediverse:

Discovery can be hard on the Fediverse, but once you have an account, following and interacting is pretty straight forward. Here is a list of accessibility people that you can follow to get started:

If you want to get on the list, ping me on the Fediverse. My handle is @yatil@micro.yatil.net. I check that accounts are accessibility related.

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  • 💬
    Sonny.css replied:
    2022-10-28 13:55

    nice. need this list!

    reply
  • 💬
    2022-10-28 14:50

    I use VoiceOver on an IPhone, downloaded Mastodon client from app store, but can’t get past first server selection screen. Selecting all catagories, general and tech doesn’t make next button active? Any ideas?

    reply
  • 💬
    Sharron Rush replied:
    2022-10-28 14:30

    Thanks Eric, I was wondering what to do after the transition to evil Elon, will head over and look into this.

    reply
  • 💬
    Eric Eggert replied:
    2022-10-28 14:50

    Sorry, I’m not using Mastodon myself. There are several apps for mastodon on the app store, I heard good stuff about “Toot!”

    reply
  • 💬
    2022-11-08 21:40

    Alas, toot.cafe is currently closed to new users as of 11/8 anyways

    reply
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