There are many ways for people to improve the accessibility of their social media posts and here are a couple of simple approaches you can take to make a huge difference!
1) Use ALT Text for Your Photos
One of the most influential ways you can improve your content is to include ALT text. ALT text, or alternative text, allows for those with low vision and those who are blind to get a description of a photo that you have posted. Where to do this depends on which media you are using. Facebook even has a function that will automatically generate ALT text descriptions for you, although this may not always be the best option. Here is another article that can walk you through ALT text on some of the most popular Social Media platforms: A Guide to Alt Text for Social Media.
2) Include Image Descriptions
Along with ALT text, it can be helpful to include image descriptions in your post captions. This small detail will take less than a minute and can often be more easily findable than ALT text. Don’t hold back either! The more detail, the more of an engaging and immersive experience it will be for those who rely on image descriptions.
3) Consider Your Emoji Use
For those with low vision and blindness who may be using a screen reader or other technology, emojis can make reading complicated. Oftentimes, software will read off the description of the emoji. If you are using emojis in an ironic or in a non-easily translated way it can be difficult for people using screen readers to translate the meaning or intentions behind certain captions or comments.
4) Include Closed Captions on Video Content
Social media is one of the few places where closed captions are not always available to the Deaf and hard of hearing community. It is actually fairly easy nowadays to add closed captions to a video with free or paid software available online. Some apps even, Twitter, allow you to create and add your own written captions to an accompanying video natively! This more accessible addition to a video is a fantastic way to make your content more consumer-friendly for everyone watching. Here is a resource that may be helpful for finding the captioning tool that would best suit your needs: 7 helpful tools for adding closed captions to your videos.
5) When using hashtags, capitalize different words.
This practice is referred to as CamelCase and is very powerful for people using screen readers who can sometimes have trouble distinguishing between particular words in a hashtag due to the lack of space. This method allows words to be more easily identified and read out to someone.
6) Avoid Using Ableist Language.
There are many commonly used words and phrases that are ableist in nature and can be offensive to those with disabilities. Phrases such as “Act more normal” and “Blind to/Deaf to”, or calling someone words like “Crippled”, “nuts/insane” are just a few examples. By not using this language and pointing out when others could change the words they pick, we can create a more inclusive and accessible environment on social media while countering some of the unconscious biases we hold.
7) Avoid Posting and Sharing “Inspiration Porn”.
Inspiration porn is the portrayal of people with disabilities as inspirational solely or in part on the basis of their disability. Posts that draw on disabled people as a source of inspiration for non-disabled consumers become grossly generalistic and degrade persons with disabilities in a way to say that those with disabilities should be praised for just living their lives. Check out our article that dives deeper into Inspiration Porn: The Complex Meaning Behind Calling a Disabled Person an Inspiration.
8) Familiarize Yourself With Accessibility Issues.
As a final suggestion, one of the best things you can do in improving the accessibility of your content is to familiarize yourself with the accessibility barriers that plague our society. Due to what is still a significant lack of awareness, accessibility issues remain prevalent and particularly difficult to work around online. By learning about what these challenges are and becoming more aware of structural and attitudinal barriers we can begin to change and address them together.