Making your social media accessible

Post date: 4 June 2019

In the past year, we've seen a real appetite for tips and tricks on how to make social media more accessible for people who are blind and partially sighted.

All popular social media icons on device screen with hand holding Apple iPhone

Before we dive into our hot-tips, it's important to remember that the changes you make don't need to be drastic, most blind and partially sighted people are likely to have their own ways of making social media accessible (using things like magnification software, text-to-speech software and braille displays). So, it's just about making a few small changes so that your posts can reach everyone.

Little tips that make a big difference in making your social media accessible

Add image descriptions

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.

But, don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to describe every single detail of the image - there is nothing worse than listening to voiceover read out a 1000-word description, which is droning on about how "the man in the far-right corner of the image has a small stain on his shirt", when that's completely irrelevant information. Just pick out a few key details that paint the picture.

How to add image descriptions on different social media platforms:

Facebook - for Facebook, you need to include a description in the text of your post. Write your post first and then tag the alt text onto the end of the post. We recommend putting your image description in brackets, separating it from the rest of the post.

Instagram - When adding a caption to your image, click on "Advanced settings" and then select "Accessibility". You'll then have the option to  "Write alt text".

Twitter - just like Instagram, you can add a seperate 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. You'll then actually be prompted each time you upload an image to "describe this image".

If you'd like further advice, check out our Connect blog - although this was originally written in regards to Twitter, the tips in this guide can be applied to all social media channels.

Use CamelCase in hashtags

When you're using hashtags, always use CamelCase (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.

Don't go emoji-crazy

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: to audio-describe or not to audio-describe, that is the question...

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.

Subtitle it up

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.

On your marks, get set, post!

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 platform(s) you use. We'd love to see your accessible posts, so don't forget to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram