Beyond the Website: Making Your Social Media Accessible

Accessibility is a big deal, and it should be: 19% of the world's population has some form of disability. And, while the focus on website accessibility is at an all-time high, it's crucial to think about your entire digital imprint. Are your social media feeds accessible?

Picture of hands holding a smartphone near a laptop, both devices show social media.
Published: 4.26.2019

For most of us, social media is a critical communications channel where we have the most opportunity to interact with our audiences. According to the US Census Bureau, 19% of the world's population has some form of disability, so getting your message out on your key social platforms in a way that’s accessible to your entire audience is a smart move – and one that will help you drive better results. Here are quick tips for making your content more accessible on major social media platforms.

Youtube

  • Include closed captions with your videos, and be sure to include the [cc] symbol in the title to let users know they’re available. YouTube does have automatic caption capabilities, but they are not always accurate; the best practice is to provide your own transcript to be used for closed captioning. (That’s especially important because many users watch videos without the sound on).
  • Include high-quality audio.
  • Provide transcripts in addition to closed captions; this will help users who want to read through content rather than watching a video (yes, they exist) as well as helping users with hearing impairment. It also can provide a search engine optimization (SEO) boost.
  • Use clear language in the video description.

Instagram

  • Instagram recently introduced automatic alternate text for images to benefit users with visual impairment. It utilizes object recognition technology to generate a description of photos for screen readers.
  • Best practice for alternate text, though, is to add your own. When creating the caption for your post, click “Advanced settings” at the bottom of the page, and you’ll find an option to “write alt text.”
  • When you’re sharing a video, include a description of what is happening in the video as well.

Twitter

  • Enable image descriptions through your profile settings. Full directions can be found here.
  • To make multi-word hashtags easier to read and for screen readers, write in camel case: capitalize the first letters of compound words as in #CommunityCollege or #WeAreHiring.
  • Spell out unfamiliar acronyms whenever possible; this is a communications best practice in general, because no matter how commonly it’s used, there are people in your target audience who aren’t going to be familiar with NCMPR, HCI, IABC, NRF, or even NPR. (We’re guessing there’s at least one of those you’re not familiar with…)
  • If your post includes a hyperlink, indicate what type of resource it is being linked to by adding [PIC], [VIDEO] or [AUDIO] before the link.
  • Provide closed captioning for videos that are uploaded directly. If uploading to YouTube, always provide a transcript to ensure accurate captioning.

Facebook

  • Just as with Twitter, spell out the first instance of an acronym so those using screen readers will be able to associate the sound of the acronym in future instances, e.g., National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR) (and the rest of your audience will have a frame of reference).
  • Provide closed captioning for videos that are uploaded directly. If uploading to YouTube, always provide a transcript to ensure accurate captioning. Again, this is helpful for reaching your entire audience, because many people watch Facebook videos with their audio turned off. 

Snapchat

Snapchat’s accessibility features are unfortunately limited as of this writing, but there are still a few things you can do to make your Snapchat stories more accessible.

  • Keep accessibility in mind as you plan your story to ensure it makes sense as viewers watch your content. Ensure you’re using good lighting for photos and videos (this benefits all your users, not just those with disabilities).
  • If there is audio, have the speaker speak clearly and at a moderate pace to describe what is happening for viewers with limited vision or cognitive impairment.
  • When adding text captions, use a large font in a contrasting color to the background image if possible.

Need help?

Contact us – we can help you make your content accessible on social media or your website.

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