*Please note: the picture above has descriptive alt text that we wrote, but is only usable for screen readers as it is a featured image.
Accessibility on social media enables everyone to view and be responsive to posted material. It enables people to interact and enjoy the content created by you. Without accessible content people cannot partake in the conversations, pictures or videos being posted, which is ableist and audist to Disabled people. Disabled people should be automatically included period, and not an afterthought. Some platforms are helping with this by providing ALT Text and automatic captions, but these solutions are bare minimum at best and does not often provide accurate content.
There are three simple ways you can be more accessible with your social media posts, but they do require work and time. This is required in order to be actually accessible, there is no magic wand or coding that will provide accurate accessible content. However, you will be reaching an audience of people that would not normally access your content before. Please keep in mind that doing accessible content means that it needs to be done correctly as there are no shortcuts; otherwise, the content will still be inaccessible.
Camel Case is one of the simplest ways to be accessible. By doing Camel Case in your hashtags, you are providing accessibility for screen-readers, clarity for everyone and connecting community members from all over the world.
An example of an inaccessible hashtag looks like this: #penisland. Is it pen island or is it penis land? Can you tell which one it is?
An example of an accessible hashtag looks like this: #DisabledPeopleAreFierce
Some famous hashtags in the Disability Community are #WhatDisabledPeopleKnow #DisabledAndCute #DisabilityTooWhite #ActuallyAutistic #BeingDisabledDoesDefineMe #SuckItAbleism and many more.
All these hashtags bring with them a sense of community and pride among the Disability Community, and this is why it’s so important to be accessible with hashtags.
Captions provide people who are d/Deaf, hard of hearing or have hearing loss, the ability to understand video content. Without this, it is considered Audist which means that without captions the content discriminates against people with hearing loss disabilities. Another reason to have captions is so that everyone can enjoy the content as some people need captions because they cannot have the volume on, English is their second language, or some neurodivergent people need them in order to understand what is going on due to sensory needs.
Captions can be a bit trickier to make accessible depending on the platform being used. Automatic captions are considered in the disability world as craptions unless they are edited. Editing is necessary in order to be accurate, and it’s advised to use open captions which are captions you cannot turn off. So, the options are to use the captions option of the social media platform and then edit the captions or use a program like Headliner to make the open captions, and then you edit them where needed. Headliner is mainly used in cases where automatic captions do not exist or if the automatic captions cannot be edited.
It is best practice to use a black background with white lettering, centered at the bottom of the screen, or in some cases the upper left corner of the screen if there are elements in the way. The sentences should not be more than two lines of text displayed at a time.
Image Descriptions are a critical accessibility need for Blind, low vision, partially sighted and those who have vision loss in order to engage with visual online content. Image descriptions are also used for people who are neurodivergent as it provides context for them, and for people with learning disabilities as they may not be able to read the pictures with words on them.
Screen-readers are mostly used to read Image Descriptions and ALT Text. ALT Text provides a brief and bare minimum text of the visual content, and in some cases cannot be read by screen-readers. ALT Text is also autogenerated and often inaccurate when used and only screen-readers can use ALT Text, which leaves out people with learning and neurodivergent disabilities. Image Descriptions are detailed and are available to everyone compared to ALT Text. It is ableist not to include Image Descriptions for visual content and leaves out a large portion of people from experiencing some social media platforms.
An Image Description is not difficult to create, but it is time consuming. Below you will find steps in how to create one.
An example of a poor Image Description: [ID: Jessie standing in a field with sunflowers]
An example of a proper Image Description: [Image Description: Jessie is standing in a field of yellow sunflowers that have brown centers, and the sky is blue with a few clouds. Jessie is a beige toned, female-presenting person with long red hair swept to the right side of their face. They have light brown eyes and is slightly smiling. They are wearing eyeliner with a pink lipstick. Jessie is wearing a black dress and a blue jean jacket with black flat shoes.]
When describing your image, it’s important to always start with a square bracket and write out the full words of Image Description followed by a colon. Then ending with another square bracket. Like this: [Image Description:] The beginning and ending brackets lets the person listening to the screen-reader know when the Image Description starts and stops.
When describing the image, include the background first, then any writing, then the person, object, or thing, and smaller details last. You must include regular colour names when describing your images, because no one will know what chartreuse is.
If there are multiple pictures, or a panel of pictures in one picture each one will need to be described.
An example of this: [Image Description: an image that contains four panels, from the top left…]
When doing an Image Description, it is important to never put the description in the comments section of your post, it will be quickly lost in the responses. Always put it in the main post. Never just say an image of person’s name without anything that describes them. A Blind person has no idea what you or other people look like in that image. Always describe what can be seen, so Blind people have the same experience as sighted people.
These three social media tips give you the power to be accessible, equitable, and include Disabled people in your social media content, creating opportunities to connect and bridge gaps in an inaccessible world.
If you like what you’ve read here, there is so much more to learn! Book an appointment for our AIMS training.