Blog banner with title "Accessibility Concerns with Clubhouse and talking about dat viz"

Lately, I’ve been thinking more about making accessible data visualizations while also exploring and using the newest audio-only social media app called Clubhouse.

While using this app, I’ve come across a few accessibility concerns and limitations with using this app. 

What’s the benefit of using Clubhouse to talk about topics like this?

First, let’s talk about the benefits of this app. 

One of my favorite things about hosting sessions like these on Clubhouse is that we get to hear from attendees. For a topic like data viz, I was grateful that I could hear other people’s thoughts recommendations.

This allows people to ask the room questions like “So I want/need to learn X tool, does anyone in the room have a favorite course or resource on this?”. And if the moderators are not familiar with X tool, others in the room can chime in. 

It’s also allowed many of us to hear and speak to experts in the field in a way we can’t easily do so on other social media platforms (they may or may not respond, and even if they do it’s not the same experience as actually talking with them).

Some well-known people in the field I’ve enjoyed speaking to/hosting rooms with Ben Jones, Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic, Jon Schwabbish, Mico Yuk, and Lillian Pierson.

Limitations of Clubhouse

A few limitations of this app:

  • It’s audio-only: There are no closed-captioning nor transcriptions made available to those who are hearing-impaired. Furthermore, it’s been an interesting challenge to talk about data visualization, without being able to view a data viz or share links easily in rooms. 
  • You are not allowed to record rooms: There’s no feature that allows you to record rooms and I’ve heard that if you attempt to record sessions, you can get in trouble by Clubhouse/have your account penalized.
  • No DMing or chat feature on this app. For some people, this is a good thing.
  • It’s limited to iOS device users currently. This already limits the app to people who can afford to purchase such devices, which we know aren’t cheap. 

Recommended Improvements to Clubhouse

Keep in mind Clubhouse is still in beta version and has already started to work on some enhancements, like enabling text to speech to allow some users to navigate the app more easily. 

A few recommendations I would make:

  • Have a closed captioning feature that users can choose to turn on. There are still some limitations with CC, but this will make the app a little more accessible to certain users.
  • Make it open to non-iOS device users (plans are in the works, in another few months)
  • Pronounce names of attendees

Sharing Knowledge

One way I’m trying to balance the accessibility concerns with the benefits of using this app is by trying to share notes for those who can not attend.

Yes, I realize that the experience is not the same as if you are attending it live. But I believe that knowledge can still be shared in these other formats. I’m happy to continue taking notes, even if it helps just one person. If you’re interested in seeing the notes, join my mailing list below!

For instance, here’s my recent IGTV (recorded live) recapping a few sessions we had on data storytelling.