What’s your main social media goal — gaining followers, boosting engagement, or driving brand awareness? No matter what you’re trying to achieve on social media, you won’t get far if certain members of your own audience can’t fully access your posts. Here are four accessibility tips to start using on your profiles today.
Set Image Alt Text
Alternative (alt) text describes an image. Screen readers relay these descriptions so visually impaired users can understand what the image shows. Below are a few ways in which some of the major social media platforms are making alt text easier to incorporate:
- Twitter allows you to enable alt text descriptions for photos and GIFs via settings. And, if you have more than one image in a single tweet, Twitter makes it easy to add descriptions for each.
- Facebook automatically creates image alt text using object recognition technology. You can modify a description before posting by editing the photo and overriding the generated text to better describe the image.
- Instagram offers the option to either opt-in for automatic alt text — created by object recognition technology — or manually type alt text for each image before or after posting.
Cut Back on Emojis
Emojis are a strong marketing tool that you can use to convey the same message across varying languages and cultures. They lighten up your posts, add color, and encourage engagement — but emojis also add extra work for assistive technology. For example, the more crying laughing emojis you include in a post, the more times a visually impaired users will hear, “face with tears of joy,” from their screen reader.
No, emojis won’t make it impossible for visually impaired users to fully access your posts, but they will add extra hurdles when used in excess. Including unnecessary content can steer some members of your audience away from your posts entirely. 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.
Hashtag in CamelCase
Whether you’re using a single-word hashtag or hashtagging an entire phrase, visually impaired users read your tags with screen reading software. However, screen readers have a hard time accurately narrating multiple-word hashtags when you write them completely in lowercase. Because hashtags eliminate the spaces that would normally separate words, visually impaired users sometimes hear multiple-word hashtags translated as incomprehensible single words.
Avoid this by writing your hashtags in camelCase, or by capitalizing the first letter of each word used in a hashtag. For example, instead of #spaghettisaturday, write #SpaghettiSaturday. This simple stylistic change will prevent visually impaired users from having to decode your longer hashtags, and it will break up your text for easy reading.
Provide Video Captions
Closed captions, open captions, and subtitles each move the accessibility needle for deaf or hard-of-hearing users in unique ways. Here’s how some of the top social media platforms support the use of video captions and subtitles:
- Facebook makes it easy to upload closed captions written as SRT files. After uploading a video, simply edit the post to 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 yet offer the option to insert SRT files for closed captioning. Therefore, the only way to make Instagram story videos, IGTV videos, and traditional video posts more accessible is to provide open captions using third-party apps.
Accessible Social Media Experts
Thanks to assistive technology such as screen readers and magnifiers, impaired users can easily engage with their favorite brands, follow them on social media, and stay up to date on the newest posts. To tap into the accessibility features offered by your favorite platforms and guarantee that your brand is available to all, partner with the social media experts at WSOA. From paid to organic social services, we can use the latest practices and platform features to make your posts accessible to as many users as possible. To learn more, contact us today.