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Whether you’re a business owner, part of an organization or just a private individual, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. But have you considered that some people might not be able to access your social media posts the same way as others. People with disabilities need accessibility features to be able to fully enjoy your social media content. Here are 10 tips on how you can make your social media posts more accessible.
Image description, Alternative text, ALT text, or alt “tags”. It goes by many names, but they all mean the same thing: ALT text allows people who can’t see an image to access a description of that image that can be read by their screen reader. Missing or ineffective ALT texts are one of the biggest problems in web accessibility, so always make sure to add an ALT text, especially if important information is conveyed in the image. It’s not just regular photos that require an ALT text. Other types of images including graphs, text images, memes and GIFs also need an ALT text. Depending on what’s pictured on the image, a good image description should:
All the major social media platforms offer the option of adding an ALT text - here’s how to do it:
If it’s not possible for you to add an ALT text, include an image description in your caption.
Make sure that your images have a strong color contrast, especially if your image contains text. Combinations of green/red and blue/yellow should be avoided, and the color contrast should be at least 4.5:1 to be accessible for people who are color blind or have low vision. For text on images you should also make sure to use an adequate font size.
Capitalizing the first letter of each word of your hashtag makes it a lot easier to read - especially for people using a screen reader. #BeMyEyes is a lot easier to read than #bemyeyes, and it makes each word of the hashtag distinguishable for screen reader software.
Another best practice is to place hashtags and mentions at the end of your post. Because screen readers read out punctuation marks, # and @ mid-post can be very disruptive.
Emojis are technically accessible; but, since emojis are read aloud by screen readers, you should be careful about how you use emojis. No one wants to listen to “smiling pile of poo” twenty times in a row or “smiling face with smiling eyes” on repeat, because you have added several of the same emoji. On top of that, you should refrain from using emojis made from text, eg. :), as it will be read out by each individual symbol by a screen reader and will not be translated in its entirety.
When using videos you should make sure that they are accessible for everyone by adding closed captions and video descriptions if possible. Contrary to closed captions or subtitles, video descriptions convey the important sights of the video that are not spoken. For example, if your video contains text that is not read out in the video, the video description should make sure to read out this text, so people who are blind or have low-vision can get the same understanding of the video. If you don’t have the means to produce a video description as audio, at the very least you can consider typing a visual description into the description field of the video.
Although it looks cool, you should avoid using special characters or formatting, as they are harder to read for people who have a low level of vision. It also interferes with screen readers that are not able to read them out as plain text.
If you’re including links in our SoMe posts, make sure they are descriptive so that people know where the link will take them. Many screen reader users use links to navigate, and without context a link labeled “click here” is not very informative.
Writing in a plain and simple language makes your post understandable for everyone, no matter their background or abilities. Language such as technical terms, slang and jargon should be avoided if possible. You should also make sure to use inclusive language, so no one feels excluded from your posts, e.g. avoiding ableist language and using gender-neutral pronouns.
Keep your posts as short and precise as possible to ensure readability and retention. You should also keep your line length as short as possible, to make it easier to read and keep an overview for people using zoom features.
Last but definitely not least, make sure that you listen and are open to feedback. It is hard to get everything right on your first try, but if you are open and listen to the feedback you receive from people who experience accessibility issues first hand, they will appreciate that you’re actually making an effort. Own up to your mistakes and make sure they are improved next time, and have an open dialogue with your community.
Enjoyed this piece? Check out our new Be My Eyes Solutions Center to learn more accessibility tips for businesses of all sizes.