Social media was built to bring people together; it has the word ‘social’ in it for a reason. This culturally important form of communication can present new challenges and even introduce new barriers for people with disabilities. Fortunately, many of the big social media players are now on-board and are providing methods to ensure full inclusion on their platforms. Here are my Top 5 Accessible Social Media tips.
Tip number 1 - Add Alt Text
Facebook adds AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered auto-generated alt text automatically. It provides general information such as the back to school photo of my children on Facebook that says “3 people, people smiling, people standing.” The technology has the ability to identify cars, trees, water, or people etc. Facebook also provides the ability to edit the auto-generated alt text to add something more descriptive and meaningful.
Twitter incorporates alt text with images in a tweet, but requires the user to access “Settings” to enable the feature. Access is: Settings > General > Accessibility > and enable Compose image descriptions.
Instagram provides users with an easy to select ‘Edit Alt Text’ when editing a post. Add the alt text via Advanced settings.
If your favourite social media platforms don’t allow you to add alt text, you can describe the photo as part of your post.
Tip number 2 – Caption videos
YouTube’s auto-captioning feature makes captioning a video much easier. While this technology is improving, users do need to continue to check for errors.
Whether you add your own caption file (SRT file) or use YouTube’s auto-captioning services try use best practice for captions. “Best practice” is ensuring all words spoken by characters and/or the narrator are captioned and includes words to songs. Describe sound events that may impact a story or meaning and use a san serif font, such as Arial or Helvetica for ease of reading.
Tip number 3 – Use emojis sparingly
Emojis (emotive icons) include alt text which is important for users who use screen readers. You can add the heart emoji to the end of a post, but one is sufficient, otherwise multiple audio occurrences of the emoji result.
Tip number 4 - When using multiple-word hashtags, capitalise the first letter in each word
This will ensure it is universally readable and especially helpful for screen reader users. As a result, the screen reader will have be able to correctly interpret “#JoinTheHuddle” instead of “#jointhehuddle” or “#JOINTHEHUDDLE.”
Tip number 5 - Place hashtags and @mentions at the end of your post
A simple adjustment ensures the main part of the post can be read without interruption.
With great social media, comes great responsibility! I hope these few tips will help you on your accessibility journey and #UnlockTheWeb!
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