By Kevin Ruh, Ruh Global Communications, Marketing Director

I am a fan of twitter and it helps me get to the point since I am limited to 140 characters. Hashtags can also help me spread my message. I tweet about many things but accessibility and disabilities inclusion is my main topic since I am the marketing director at Many people use the hashtag #A11y as a shortcut for #Accessibility. Let’s face it – 4 characters versus 13 characters can make a difference in a tight tweet. However The hashtag #A11Y has coming under fire recently by many in the #accessibility and #disability field.

Some people think this hashtag is a time saver to refer to accessibility as an all-encompassing term. The mashup is from the fact that in the word accessibility there are 13 letters, so if [A] the first letter and [Y] the last letter are left off, the count becomes 11 letters.

Thus adding back the anchor letters to the numeric representation of the middle section of the word accessibility, we get a11y! This is a roundabout way to go I know, but now that the term makes sense we can start to understand the criticisms of the hashtag.

Some of the complaints that I have observed are from users do not know what the hashtag means. Not sure if I agree with those complaints because if you observe any internet culture since the inception of the internet. We have used slang to get out message across since we were limited by 140 characters. So that excuse reminds me of my parents years ago saying, “What does LOL (Laugh out Loud) mean”?

Since the internet landscape is constantly changing it will help for us to be flexible and try out different things including slang hashtags.

Telling people that they cannot use a certain hashtag seems to go against the fluidity of the internet and social media. I’m not intending to have a harsh tone, this situation just seems a bit like a child who doesn’t get his way and so decides to just take his ball and go home in other words “I Quit”.

Most of us learned at a young age this methodology of thinking helps no one including the person that Quit. There is also a danger of stunted the conversation. Let’s be pioneers and trailblazers instead of fighting about an abbreviation. I believe that the internet and social media should be a place where we can create new terms and use them without having a negative “backlash”.

Okay maybe this was a bit of a rant (smile) but I hope it will create a meaningful dialog about this topic. I would love to hear your feedback – positive and negative – because social media is a social conversation. So let’s talk about it.