Easy Ways to Make Social Media Posts Accessible
We talk a LOT about making web content and functionality accessible and how doing so takes a commitment and sometimes, a lot of work. Something that doesn’t take much time–but is often overlooked when discussing accessibility– is social media.
Luckily several social media platforms make it fairly easy to create accessible posts. Here’s an overview of how to make your posts more inclusive.
Many posts involve pictures. Make sure to include alternative text (alt text) with all images. Alternative text is a short description of an image or info-graphic that is coded into the HTML of a site/post which allows users who cannot see to hear the description announced by a screen reader. Many social media platforms have specific instructions on implementing alt text in their FAQs or help sections, including: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and MailChimp.
Video captions are absolutely necessary for those who are blind or hard of hearing, but also for people with learning or cognitive disabilities. Creating and implementing original captions is always best practice. Most YouTube videos have automated captions, which means that they are generated by voice recognition software and are not always accurate, so creating them yourself is always the best option. Here’s how to do that on YouTube and on Vimeo.
While it is difficult to post an entire transcript to a social media post, you can direct followers to your blog for a transcript–like we do in this post here. Giving users alternative options for engaging with your content is best practice and shows that you care about ALL users.
Emojis & Hashtags
Emojis are great, but avoid using them repetitively. Why? Because the screen reader will read “smiley face, smiley face, smiley face…” for each of the emojis used in the post. The thought of having to listen to that makes me cringe! Hashtags are so useful in getting your posts visibility, but screen readers will have a tough time deciphering them unless you capitalize the first letter of each word after the “#.” So make sure you write #AccessibleWeb rather than #accessibleweb.
In the case you are going to post about disability or accessibility, use “people first” language–which puts the person before the disability–so “person with a disability” rather than “disabled person” Many words and phrases that used to be acceptable–including “handicapped”–are outdated and should not be used.
The American Foundation for the Blind has great resources for all things disability–check out this one specifically for more information on making your social media posts accessible to everyone!