Have you heard of the latest brand new social media platform taking the world by storm? If you haven’t heard of the brand new audio only social media app Clubhouse, read on to learn more.
What is Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is a social media app completely centered around live drop in audio. There’s no fancy pictures, videos or gifs, just amazing opportunities for conversations, knowledge sharing and networking.
How Do I Join Clubhouse?
Clubhouse is currently in private and invite only beta exclusively on iOS. In order to join in you either have to join the waitlist in the iOS appor a current member of Clubhouse has to send yu an invite. Invites are distributed to new members both when they join and as they interact on the app. So far I have been lucky enough to receive 8 invitations in total to share and I have given the majority of those invites to fellow members of the blind community!
How Does Clubhouse Work?
After you activate your invitation to Clubhouse you will be asked to complete your profile by adding a bio and selecting interests and people to follow. You will then be taken to the Hallway, which is an equivalent to a news feed or timeline on other social media platforms. The Hallway is where you will find current rooms that are open to join as well as options to explore additional rooms that are about topics or have people in them that you do not follow.
Once you join a room that interests you , you will enter in as an audience member meaning that your microphone is muted and you are not able to speak on the topic. If you desire to speak on the topic, and the moderator has hand raising turned on, you can select the raise hand button and the moderator can invite you to join the stage as a speaker.
Clubhouse also has clubs that you may join which are similar to Facebook Groups and they are typically centered around a common topic, interest or identity and have regular rooms scheduled throughout the week.
Is Clubhouse Accessible?
Ah, the age old question, is it accessible? As it stands right now, Clubhouse is not fully accessible for individuals that require the use of Voice Over, however I have found some helpful work-arounds to get you participating in rooms like a pro. Also, it is important to note that Clubhouse is very vocal about being in beta right now and I have reported several bugs to the Clubhouse team for consideration.
Helpful Voice Over Tips
- Unfortunately there are several unlabeled buttons on the Hallway in Clubhouse. The buttons start in the upper left corner of the screen and from right to left they appear to be Search, Invites, Events and your initials which will take you to your profile.
- Selecting your interests requires toggling on the Screen Recognition feature in Voice Over in order to have the interest titles read aloud.
- Locating the Start A Room button is complicated as it requires scrolling through the open rooms and your friends that have been online in the last day to eventually land on the Start a Room button. I have attempted to locate the button by exploring the screen without success.
- When in a room and a moderator invites you to join as a speaker you will hear a light chime sound. You will likely struggle to locate the accept button. The best way I have found to do this is to turn on screen recognition for Clubhouse and then navigate to the top left corner of the app. Once you accept the invite to speak you will automatically be unmuted, so I highly recommend using headphones so that others don’t hear your screen reader output. To mute yourself you can double tap in the bottom right corner to toggle mute and unmute on and off. You will want to also toggle screen recognition back off after accepting the speaker invite as ironically it makes other parts of the interface less usable when it is on.
- Once you become a speaker the Voice Over volume is significantly lowered, so you may desire to increase Voice Over volume using the Voiceover rotor.
- When starting a new room, it appears that at times you have to double tap the button twice to get it to activate.
The Bottom Line
I have been on Clubhouse for about 2 weeks now and I must say that despite the accessibility difficulties I am still enjoying being on the platform. I have followed a few clubs and have had opportunities to connect with people that I never before would have been able to chat and network with. I have no doubt that this will soon be the preeminent platform for our blind and visually impaired community to connect live once the accessibility bugs are worked out. In the meantime, if you are using the platform, be sure to report all of the accessibility bugs you encounter to make the Clubhouse experience the best it can be for our community once the platform opens up to everyone. And if you would like to follow me on Clubhouse you can find me @serinagilbert.