4 Ways to Make Your Social Media Posts More Accessible
1. Add Alt Text
Alternative (alt) text adds a written description to an image, allowing screen readers to read the descriptions to visually impaired people. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all have easy-to-use options for adding alt text to your pictures.
- Twitter calls alt text “descriptions.” When posting a photo to the platform, simply click the “add description” button below your image.
- Facebook automatically creates image alt text using object recognition technology. These tools are pretty cool, but they still make mistakes and can be too vague. You can modify or add detail to your description by clicking on the photo, clicking the “…” button and selecting “change alt text.”
- Instagram offers the option to either opt-in for automatic alt text or manually type alt text for each image. To manually edit your alt text, click the “write alt text” button on the last editing screen before posting.
2. Cut Back on Emojis
Emojis first showed their cute faces on Japanese cell phones in the late 90s. Today, 92% of online consumers regularly use them. And not without good reason. Emojis can add a lightness to your posts and encourage engagement, but this isn’t entirely true across the board.
When a visually impaired person uses a screen reader to read an emoji, they hear the description assigned to the picture. That means when you caption a hilarious Instagram meme with 😂😂😂😂, a visually impaired person is hearing “face with tears of joy, face with tears of joy, face with tears of joy, face with tears of joy” from their screen reader — which could easily lead anyone to more tears than joy.
No, emojis won’t make it impossible for visually impaired users to access your posts, but too many can become tedious and unintelligible. Instead of going for overkill with a ton of hearts and smiley faces, sprinkle in emojis where you think they’d best add effect or emotion.
3. Use CamelCase for Hashtags
Social media just wouldn’t be the same without #ThrowBackThursday or #Selfie. We love hopping on a hashtag trend. And even better than adding alt text, making your hashtags accessible only takes one small fix.
When visually impaired users read hashtags, a screen reader can only tell when to separate words if the first letter is capitalized. An all lowercase hashtag may look aesthetically pleasing, but it’s often an incomprehensible mess to a user on a screen reader.
The solution is easy: camel case, i.e. capitalizing the first letter of each word in your hashtag. #AccessibilityIsAwesome
4. Caption Your Videos
It’s pretty well known that platforms like Youtube offer captioning to accompany your videos. But your captioning habit shouldn’t halt at YouTube. Here’s how some of the top social media platforms support the use of video captions and subtitles:
- Facebook allows you to upload closed captions as SRT files. After uploading a video, simply edit the post and upload a file with corresponding captions. Upload additional files to provide closed captions in other languages.
- Twitter, similar to Facebook, supports the use of subtitles uploaded as SRT files.
- Instagram doesn’t offer the option to insert SRT files for captioning. Therefore, the only way to make Instagram story videos, IGTV videos and traditional video accessible is to provide captions using third-party apps.