Do you ever wonder how people with disabilities use social media? Probably not! Because this is not a subject we think about on a Friday afternoon or between coffees. So it’s high time to consider how people with, for example, visual impairments use Facebook or Instagram and how, with a few simple tricks, you can make your organisation’s content more accessible to them!
Don’t forget that you are also sometimes not fully fit
We categorise people very easily, this one is disabled and that one is not. I have to disappoint you – it doesn’t work like that! Looking from the perspective of accessibility and creating accessible media and social media, all of us sometimes have disabilities.
Sun glare falling on your phone? A long and boring public transport journey? A broken arm? Putting your baby to sleep? These are all situations where you either can’t hear Instastories (because it’s not appropriate to let your voice out or you can’t do it) or can’t see fonts or pop-up notifications accurately (because insufficient contrast makes it impossible to see them on a sunny day). These are everyday and ordinary situations in which we are not fully technologically proficient.
Prepare content for all
It may now be easier for you to empathise and understand that creating accessible content is of course about caring for people who live with disabilities on a daily basis, but also for those who only deal with them for a short while. What can be done to avoid creating barriers and accessible content? Below you will find some tips!
1. Create ALTs
ALT – or alternative text is a short, detailed description of what is in the image. It is worth attaching it to each image so that people using screen readers can know what is happening in the image.
It seems unnatural, but in reality it is very simple and takes less than a minute. All you have to do is write what you see in the picture. Twitter makes it easy to write and add descriptions of images. Facebook has the ability to edit and add alternative text to its automatically generated (albeit very simple) image descriptions – just click when adding a photo:
Edit > Alternative text and add what exactly you see in the image.
2. Create hashtags wisely
Sometimes a hashtag in capital letters or a string of lowercase letters may look nicer, but in reality it is very difficult to read. Using “CamelCase” not only makes it easier for all users to distinguish between words, it also helps automated screen readers to read the hashtag to people with visual impairments or reading difficulties.
#CreateAvailableHashtags, not #anyhashtags!
3. Add subtitles to your videos
Are you uploading a video to social media? Are you creating Stories? How to use TikTok? Remember to always add subtitles in addition to the video. These can be coded subtitles (where the user can turn them on and off – such as on YouTube) or open subtitles (where the text is embedded in the video and cannot be turned on or off).
Subtitles are essential so that deaf or hard of hearing people can watch your films. They are also extremely helpful for people with learning disabilities and sensory processing disorders.
Subtitles, not only will make your videos more accessible, but they are also more engaging for people who use their mobile phone with the sound turned off (according to social media platform statistics, this is up to 80% of users)!
4. Use emoticons wisely
Text-to-speech software reads everything on a website or social media post – including emoticons! So avoid long strings of emoticons or also add words to describe them to make the experience more accessible for people with visual impairments.
For the same reason, avoid emoticons formed from strings of characters such as
ʕ•́ᴥ•̀ʔ or ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .
5. Stay away from custom fonts
On social media, everyone wants to stand out, but non-standard fonts are an easy way to become less visible, at least to people with disabilities. Fancy text characters that you won’t find on a normal keyboard (such as 𝔢𝔵𝔞𝔪𝔭𝔩𝔢) aren’t just another font – they’re scientific symbols used to mimic unusual text. To make your posts accessible, it’s worth avoiding the use of those online “fancy text generators” and using a regular keyboard instead.
6. Maintain colour contrast
When you add a background to a graphic or use an image generator e.g. in Facebook, remember to always ensure that the font and background contrast is appropriate. On the web you will find many tools that make it easier to verify colours, e.g. The Contrast Checker. However, your first hint should always be your intuition. If a text is difficult to look at and is not immediately visible, it is worth changing the colour.
Accessibility in social media – now it’s your turn
These few simple rules will make the content you create and the social media you run accessible to everyone! Put some of the above tips into practice today. Let them become the standard for your organisation’s communications.