How to Make your Social Media Accessible for All

A website must be accessible for users of all abilities, everyone knows that, right? By making your website inclusive and accessible, you are giving all your visitors the same opportunities to go through your content, no matter their ability. So, why not making your content accessible on social media as well? Eliminating obstacles for people to access your content on social media is not only what’s right but also a way to improve your overall social media presence and get your message to a broader audience.

Even though social media platforms are not 100% accessible right now, there are many actions your team can take to improve your nonprofit’s content accessibility. Here are some of them:

Add Alt Text to Images

Provide alternative text descriptions when posting on social media platforms or scheduling posts on social media aggregation tools (HootSuite) so that screen-reader users can have the image described for them. Even though some platforms have their own automated image description features, it is always recommendable to write the alt text description yourself. Consider the following when writing out alternative text on your social media images:

  • Describe what you can see in the image and keep in mind the context and how it supports the text.
  • Do not use the word image or graphic.
  • Keep the descriptive text short and simple.

To learn more about the accessibility possibilities each platform provides and aid you in the process of creating accessible posts, we encourage you to take a look at their own accessibility support documentation: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram.

Include Closed or Open Captions on Video

Including closed or open video captions is essential for those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or non-native speakers as it provides a text description of the audible content given in that video. Closed captions can be turned on and off, while open captions are part of the video and cannot be turned on or off.

Some platforms, such as Facebook, allow users to automatically generate captioning on their videos, but they are not completely precise. You should review them closely to make sure they are accurate before posting. Another option for sharing captioned videos on Facebook is to upload them into a YouTube Channel to allow closed-captioning. But, instead of using auto-generated captions, you should prepare your own transcript and upload it so that the captions are accurate. Rather than uploading the video directly into Facebook, include the link in your status update. This will ensure that your video has an accurate and accessible closed captioning.

Since different platforms have different video captioning options and features, we would recommend reviewing the social media platform’s accessibility support documentation (links provided in the previous section) to determine which captioning type (closed or open) must be used on each platform.

Use CamelCase Hashtags

Hashtags that contain multiple words should be written in camel case, which means capitalizing the first letter of each word. Employing this technique can be very helpful for people with reading disabilities, and it makes it easier for readers in general to differentiate words. It also allows screen-readers to recognize and pronounce individual words more clearly. So, instead of writing #socialmediaaccessibility, you should write #SocialMediaAccessibility.

Use Acronyms Properly

Whenever space allows (acknowledging the limited character count on Twitter), try to avoid the use of acronyms. They can be hard to understand for some readers and confuse screen-readers. Instead of using the acronym, use the full phrase or spell it out so that the full name is read before the acronym. This way, the reader can associate the sound of the acronym with the phrase that is right before it.

Use Emojis Moderately

It is important to keep in mind that emojis and emoticons will be read out loud by a screen-reader. Be thoughtful when adding emojis and consider the placement and number. We would recommend limiting the number to one or two maximum and placing them at the end of the post caption to avoid confusion and discomfort.

 

This is an article by Alba Lopez, Social Media Specialist at C(Group.

 

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