Post date: March 20 2020
We've seen a real appetite for tips and tricks on how to make social media more accessible, so here are a few of the best for you.
Before we dive into our list of tips, it’s important to remember you don't need to make drastic changes as most blind and partially sighted people are likely to have their own ways of making social media accessible. Tools like magnification software, text-to-speech software and braille displays can be extremely helpful. So, it's just about making a few small changes to ensure your posts can reach everyone.
Describing photos, or putting alternative text (alt text), for people who are blind or partially sighted is really important as it allows them to build up a mental picture of what someone who is sighted is seeing automatically.
If your graphic is very text heavy, include a link to your website in the post copy where people can access all of the text on the image. Even the Queen does this so it’s a royally good tip!
But, don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to describe every single detail of the image. It is frustrating to listen to a voiceover read out a 1,000-word description, which drones on about how "the man in the far-right corner of the image has a small stain on his shirt", when it's completely irrelevant. Just pick out a few key details that paint the picture.
Facebook – for Facebook, you upload your photo, then click 'edit photo' and write your description in the 'Alternative text' box. Then just click save and you're ready to publish.
Instagram – for feed posts, upload your photo, click next, then 'advanced settings' and then click 'write alt text'. Then simply add your description and click done before sharing as normal. Unfortunately, Instagram Stories don't currently have the option to add image descriptions, so instead write a description in your post.
Twitter – you can add a separate image description to an image on Twitter; saving you crucial time and characters. You need to activate the 'Image Descriptions' feature, which you can find in 'Twitter Settings', under the 'Accessibility' tab. After that, just attach your image as normal and then click 'Alt' to add your description, and post as normal.
When you're using hashtags, always use CamelCase and capitalise the first letter of every word. This means that the words in the hashtag are read out correctly by screen readers. It also makes them easier to read for everybody else. For example, you would write #HowISee, rather than #howisee.
Text-to-speech software reads out a description for every single emoji which is used, so be careful with the amount of emojis you include. For example, if someone puts four star emojis, the software will read out: "star star star star".
Videos don't need to be audio described, as long as they are audio led. This means that the audio must be as important as what's on screen. The video should send the same message, both audibly and visually. If it doesn't, try to add a description of what happens in the video either as a follow-up tweet, or as part of the caption.
To make them fully accessible, videos should have subtitles where possible. There are lots of free apps available which make adding subtitles to your videos really easy – so just have a google.
Now that you know how to make your social media posts accessible, you're all set to take the world of social media by storm. But don't forget to regularly check for new accessibility features on the relevant platforms you use. We'd love to see your accessible posts, so don't forget to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.