5 Tips to Make Social Media More Accessible

by Nathan Halnin

Mar 17, 2020

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(image via pxhere)

Millions of people use social media around the world. With the current situation of individuals being encouraged to practice social distancing due to COVID-19, people are more likely to be using social media as a form of leisure. Social media platforms are a great outlet to share content on a global scale, and while social media certainly has a wide reach, the content created does not always accommodate for those who have accessibility needs. 

Accessibility in social media includes the likes of providing visual and/or hearing aids, but it also includes creating content that is easy to understand for all demographics. Creating content for social media that provides accessibility options is a great way to maximize your audience reach. Here are five tips to help to consider in making your social media content more accessible and inclusive. 

1. Provide alt text

Alt text is a feature that allows you to create descriptive captions regarding an image that you posted. This caption is automatically generated by using the alt text tool which can be found in all social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. While the caption is automatically generated, it is also recommended to manually change the caption as sometimes the generated caption is not always accurate. Below is an overview of how to access this feature on certain social media platforms.

For Instagram: While creating a post, scroll down to “advanced settings” and select “write alt text” under the accessibility tab.

For Twitter: Go to “settings and privacy”, then go to “accessibility” and then select “compose image description”.

For Facebook: When uploading a photo, select “edit photo” and select “alt text”, which will create a generated caption.

Instagram, Social Media, Girl, Woman, Smartphone
(image via pixabay)

2. Use narration

Videos are an engaging multimedia element that can be shared on all social media platforms, however, it is helpful to include narration for those who may need visual aid. Narration is not just describing what is happening in a video, but it also means providing descriptive details that is captured throughout the video. Typical narration only describes the course of action that is ongoing. Narration for accessibility goes into greater detail, which includes the description of the setting, any visible elements or characteristics such as colours, patterns, facial expressions, etc. As a general tip, narration is always useful, regardless if it is for accessibility reasons or not. 

3. Use simple and inclusive language

While it is often encouraged to use simple language when posting for social media, this is still overlooked by many. This refers to avoiding complex words and terminology that only people from special fields would know. For example, using legal terms and medical terms should be provided with an explanation. In addition, this tip also encourages to avoid using culture-specific references, and to provide a glossary of terms to make content more accessible. Typically, writing that is designated for the public should be put at a Grade 9 level at maximum. Hemingway Editor is a useful tool that allows you to see the grade level of your writing, as well as highlight any complex or confusing sentences.

4. Create video captions

Video captions are one of the most simple, but effective tools you can employ to make your content more accessible. Generally, including captions is recommended as many who view videos in public do not always play it with audio. However, in the context of accessibility, this is useful for those who may have hearing difficulties. When creating video captions, many platforms like YouTube and Facebook have a setting known as the audio transcription tool which automatically generates captions. While this is a good starting point, it is highly recommended to check the captions and ensure they are accurate. You can manually edit the captions in the video editor for YouTube and Facebook. 

Man Watching TV
(image via public domain pictures)

5. Implement effective design

Design is an important part of social media, and it can sometimes determine the popularity and reach of your posts. When using design, it is important to be mindful of constraints that affect the accessibility of posts on social media. One consideration is to make sure that text and background have a high colour contrast. This is to ensure that the text is readable, since if it has a low colour contrast, the text and the background may blend in together which makes it difficult to read. When it comes to text, make sure that the font is an appropriate size, and that you are using a font that is not cursive or too decorative. Using clear and effective design is helpful in reaching your audience without excluding anyone who may have accessibility needs.

Conclusion

Social media platforms are resourceful outlets that are beneficial for people to use if they want to share content that can reach multiple audiences. However, it is helpful to consider these five tips in the future to accommodate those who have accessibility needs. By following these tips, not only are you providing inclusive content that can be accessed by everyone, the potential to grow your audience is increased if you are mindful of accessibility considerations. Lastly, these tips are not just meant for those who have accessibility needs, but they can also be guiding points in how to present your social media content to make it more clear and understandable to your audience.