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Best Practices for Social Media Accessibility

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How much time people spend on social media is constantly increasing. According to a study published by Statista, there are 2.62 billion people that use social media, and the average time spent on these social platforms is roughly two hours. Social media platforms are constantly developing new tools and features to entice new customers.  For business owners, having a social media presence is critical in order to gain new customers and build a following around their brand. However, what many business owners don’t take into consideration when posting on their social media platforms, is making sure their posts are accessible to everyone. In this guide, we’ve put together several tips on how to make your posts accessible on popular social media sites. 

Facebook

When posting an image on Facebook, it is always important to add alternative (Alt) text to the image so screen reader users can read the description of the picture. Alternative text is a textual description of an image that allows blind or visually impaired users the ability to be read a description and the function of the image using their screen reader technology. In 2016, Facebook rolled out automatically generated alternative text on all images. However, it leaves much to be desired. For many images, the alt text is simply “image with text” or “image of water” which is not proper alternative text and does not provide a good description for visually impaired users. To change the automatically generated text, follow these steps. 

  1. Click on the image you want to add ALT text to 
  2. Click the “Options” link in the bottom right corner of the photo 
  3. Click “Change Alt Text” 
  4. Enter in your desired alt text and click “Save” 
Needs tips on how to write great alternative text? Read our article What are Alt Tags and Why do I Need Them?
 
Video is projected to claim more than 80% of all web traffic by 2019 (Cisco, 2018). As you scroll through your news feed on Facebook, you’ll notice that there are more videos than text these days. However, for videos to be accessible, they need to have captions. Captions are text on a video that describe what is going on in the video, such as the dialogue, sounds, and images.  To add captions to your Facebook videos, take the following steps. 

  1. To the right-hand side of the video, click on “Subtitles & Captions (CC)” 
  2. Select the video language 
  3. You can choose to write or upload additional captions if you would like to have captions in more than one language
  4. Click “auto-generated” under the captions added section 
  5. Set the default language for the captions for the video. When selecting this option if a user’s language isn’t available, the language that is selected will become the default

Twitter 

To add descriptive text to an image on Twitter follow these steps: 

  1. Click on your profile 
  2. Click on “Settings and privacy” from the drop-down menu 
  3. Select “Accessibility” from the right-hand menu 
  4. Check “Compose image descriptions” which will then give you the option to add image descriptions for the visually impaired 
When tweeting out a link, specify what type of media the link leads to, such as video or webpage. Also, remember to use a URL shortener such as bit.ly. This helps screen reader users because their assistive technology will read out the link to them. By shortening the URL, it allows them to quickly and easily tell what the link is leading to. 

Avoid using acronyms in your tweets because screen readers will read the message as it is typed out and this may be confusing to most screen reader users or some users may not be familiar with that acronym. For example, instead of typing “omg I love web accessibility”, type out “oh my gosh I love web accessibility.”

Ensure that your profile is accessible to low vision users by certifying that your banner image and profile image have appropriate color contrast. Webaim has a great color contrast checker to certify that your contrast is up to WCAG Level AA guidelines which are the internationally accepted standards for web accessibility. 

Instagram 

Instagram currently does not have an integrated alternative text feature. To get around this inconvenience, it is suggested to put the alternative text in the post description section. To provide transcripts for videos, it is suggested to also put the transcript in the post description because there is no character limit. 

When posting an image of a graph or a chart, remember to include the key takeaways in the alternative text. If text is included in an image, the text should also be included in the alternative text. 

Making sure your entire internet presence (including social media) is accessible makes sure you are reaching as many customers as possible. There are over 56.7 million people that are disabled in the United States that represent a market value of over $544 billion annually. Digital accessibility is just good business sense and it’s the right thing to do. 

If you need help making your website accessible, contact the team of web accessibility experts at DigiPro Media


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