Who can benefit from this study?
No beneficiaries specified
Organisation responsible for case study:
Name: Code for Africa
Org. type: Non-Profit
Making fact-checks accessible through multimedia
Post Status: Complete
Main Project Location: Kilifi
Project country/countries: Kenya
Project dates: 2020 –
Last updated: 4 May 2022
Brief overview of the Case Study
Despite one in six people having some form of disability, the needs of this group continue to be overlooked, particularly on digital platforms.
PesaCheck — Africa’s largest indigenous fact-checking organisation which is incubated by Code for Africa — has successfully piloted an audio-visual fact-checking series on social media, delivering impactful fact-checks in a universally accessible format.
This project, which has already earned recognition as part of Meta’s third-party fact-checking programme, combines easy-to-use free and paid tools in a production process that can quickly be replicated anywhere in the world with minimal training required. This case study gives an overview of the project, exploring why inclusive and accessible content is crucial, and demonstrate how any fact-checking or civic organisation, regardless of size or accessibility expertise, can repurpose their content to truly serve everyone.
The challenge or problem
PesaCheck produces hundreds of fact-checks every month and is one of the world’s largest fact-checkers by output and countries covered. These fact-checks are presented as text and infographics, and live on PesaCheck.org. But how can disabled audiences, and specifically blind or low vision users, access this vital information? While assistive technologies like screen readers help blind users navigate websites, we felt it would be important to also curate our best fact-checks for a social media audience in a way that would include blind and deaf users as well as audiences that prefer consuming multimedia content.
The solution that was implemented
We created a multimedia product that serves a selection of PesaCheck’s best fact-checks to users on social every week, while also delivering critical context and practical knowledge from our team of seasoned investigators to help ordinary citizens know how to spot and stop the spread of false information. This multimedia product, which amplified the work of our fact-checking team at PesaCheck as well as the work of Code for Africa’s iLAB, an experienced multinational team of forensic investigators and analysts tracking toxic content and bad actors across the continent. Over the course of 14 episodes, this project demonstrated how civic organisations can successfully curate and re-package their content in formats that are truly accessible to all users, whether disabled or not.
We used a suite of free and paid tools:
Anchor.fm: a lightweight audio recording, editing and distribution tool owned by Spotify, available on both mobile and desktop
Adobe AfterEffects: a powerful paid tool that’s part of Adobe Creative Cloud which allows you to combine audio with video and add effects and photos to your project. Similar fremium tools are available, and free Creative Cloud licenses are also available for non-profits.
Kapwing.com: a free website that lets you add subtitles or captions to your video. Registration is required to remove the watermark.
What results were achieved?
This multimedia content, which places an emphasis on brevity, practicality and accessibility, remains PesaCheck’s best-performing organic content to date, earning a combined 5,000 plays on Twitter alone as reported by the platform, as well as reaching audiences on Instagram, Facebook and Spotify.
We also showcased the project as a proof-of-concept during the International Fact-Checking Network’s Global Fact 8 conference, the world’s largest gathering of fact-checking organisations and researchers. By doing this, we demonstrated how organisations and teams can successfully turn their content into formats that are more accessible to disabled users while still providing value to wider audiences across the information and media ecosystem.
Lessons and recommendations
Creating multimedia content can be time consuming. For small teams which may not necessarily have technical and production expertise, developing a simple, standard template that can be re-used easily is crucial. An example of such a template is an Adobe AfterEffects file where the only elements that change are the background image and the audio file, cutting down the hours it would take a beginner to create and export a multimedia file to mere minutes.
Building around an accessibility-first philosophy is a great way to reach as wide an audience as possible, differentiate your product, win funding and get internal and external buy-in from decision makers and partners.
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