Accessibility for social media

In 2018, new legislation was brought in to ensure public sector websites are accessible. But what about the 1.2 billion of us who are active on social media every day?

Simple changes to the way you post social media can make a huge difference for those with a disability. Here’s some top tips on how to make your posts accessible.

Image descriptions (alt text)

Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. However, those using screen reading software (which can’t describe images) or even users with a slow internet connection may have trouble understanding your post without a description. Provide alternative text which describes the image, which screen readers will read out.

If you use an image with text in, like an infographic, include a text version either within the tweet (or threaded tweet) or by linking to a webpage with all the information in.

Luckily, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are making image descriptions the norm. Facebook and Instagram even add automated image descriptions on posts using AI.


How to set image descriptions on Twitter

How to set image descriptions on Instagram

How to set image descriptions on Facebook

 

 

Video captions

Video captions don’t just benefit users who are deaf or hard of hearing. Have you ever tried to watch a video in public but don’t have your headphones to hand? Make sure every video you post has captions.

Both Facebook and YouTube auto generate subtitles when you upload a video, but you can edit them to make sure they are accurate. Twitter and LinkedIn don’t have this functionality yet but you can downloaded a .srt file of the subtitles generated on YouTube to upload to other channels with your video.

Don’t forget about Instagram stories! Although Instagram doesn’t have this functionality built in yet, tools like Clipomatic can help.

Example of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez using captioning on her Instagram story
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez using captions on her Instagram story

Mashable’s guide to adding captions to Instagram stories

How to add captions to YouTube videos

How to add subtitles on Twitter

How to add subtitles on LinkedIn

How to add subtitles on Facebook

Audio descriptions

Audio description explains what is happening a video, so people with vision problems are able to understand it. Unfortunately, audio description tools aren’t as widely available as captioning tools and adding additional audio to a video isn’t always possible. Try to add a description of what is happening in the video in a threaded tweet or comment.

For talking heads or where the video is text only (like slides), descriptions aren’t needed.

Flashing videos / images

Flashing images or videos can cause distress to users and can even be harmful for epileptics. 20,000 people in the UK suffer from epilepsy and The Epilepsy Society has asked for social media companies to put warnings on flashing content (like sensitive content) or ban it altogether. It’s best to avoid using them at all.

Writing hashtags

If you are using multiple words in a hashtag, they can be very difficult for some users to read. Use titlecase for each word in the hashtag to keep it clear.

#isthiseasiertoread or #IsThisEasierToRead?

Using emojis

Screen-reading software does read out emojis so using them is fine but it will read out every one so keep them to a minimum. Here’s an example:

I love my dog ❤️” would be read as “I love my dog heart

Whereas:

I love my dog ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️” would be read as “I love my dog heart heart heart heart heart heart

To summarise

When you’re posting to social media just think about how users with disabilities will be viewing the post. This tweet from @NyleDiMarco sums it up perfectly:

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