Accessible social media and language guidelines at Transpennine Express

"I had a really insightful day today learning about digital inclusivity and inclusive language with the TransPennine Express Social Media Team and the expertise of AbilityNet. Really enjoyable and informative training sessions which will help us deliver really engaging and accessible content." 

Chris Jeffery, Accessibility Co-ordinator at TransPennine Express


In 2021, the Transpennine Express (TPE) team was asked to submit a proposal to Rail North Partnership detailing a social media strategy to improve engagement with disabled customers. Part of the proposal was to introduce a new, private Facebook group to build a community with customers who have accessibility needs.

Transpennine Express logo"We were also the first train operator in the UK to introduce passenger assistance bookings via our WhatsApp channel. To support our social media team and other colleagues at TPE, we reached out to AbilityNet who we felt had an impressive training package that suited our needs," says Louis Helm, Social Media Manager at TPE.

Planning an Accessibility Training Day

AbilityNet set about helping TPE to organise an Accessibility Training Day for its staff.

"AbilityNet were great to work with... They organised Teams and Zoom calls so that we could tailor each session to social media and the rail industry. We were able to meet the team beforehand to discuss content and how the day would be structured. We decided to have all training sessions delivered in one day and AbilityNet suggested the following workshops:

  • Adi Latif, disability and accessibility consultant at AbilityNet, hosted a session called Please Let Me In?
  • Introduction to Digital Accessibility
  • Inclusive Language Guidelines

Learning how screen readers work

Adi Latif’s session gave a demonstration of how screen readers worked, and this was tailored to Twitter.

"Feedback from the team was great and they found that the Inclusive Language session was important to support us in communicating with customers who have disabilities," continues Helm.

"It was also interesting to see the basics of using capitals in hashtags and the difference this makes," says Helm.

"Great working with AbilityNet today to provide accessibility training to the TransPennine Express social media team. Learning about inclusive language and digital accessibility. Thank you for the really valuable and informative sessions to support colleagues who manage our social media profiles."

Natasha Marsay, Accessibility and Integration Manager at TransPennine Express

AbilityNet also produced recordings of each session, which will be shared with new starters and colleagues within TPE.

Social media accessibility improvements 

Man sitting in front of computer in house, with 'Writing for accessibility' slide showing on screenThe social team are now more aware of how they should structure tweets and use the correct disability language, especially when supporting customers who have disabilities.

Since TPE started developing its proposal back in 2021, accessibility has been a key part of its thoughts.

The social media team works with its Accessibility and Inclusion team on a weekly basis. "We have recently employed a Social Media Content Creator and part of their role is creating accessible and inclusive content consistently going forward," says Helm.

Expanding digital accessibility training

"We already have plans to work with AbilityNet again with the next sessions provisionally booked in for later this year," says Helm.

These sessions will be tailored towards content creation. "We have chosen more fantastic courses! This includes Accessible Social Media, InDesign Accessibility and How to produce accessible videos," enthuses Helm.

"We want accessibility to be considered in all future content we share, whether that’s produced internally or externally," he continues. 

AbilityNet is also producing Accessible Guidelines for TPE, which will be the go-to document for current staff and new starters within the social media team.

How to progress institutional accessibility

"My advice for others looking to transform their digital accessibility," says Helm, "would be to have a dedicated team which manages Accessibility and Inclusivity within their business. I would also advise getting in touch with AbilityNet as its content and training has been ideal for us so far - AbilityNet made the process of booking training easy." 

Don't Disable Me: Learn how to create a disability inclusive workplace: Book your training place
Accessible Social Media training course: Get live training or buy on-demand

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