Social media is supposed to be a place for everybody to share and be, well, social. So why is it still so difficult for some people to use it? As new platforms like TikTok gain popularity and Instagram announce new features like Reels and IGTV, the accessibility gap on social media only gets bigger. Many social media users who are visually impaired or hard of hearing aren’t getting the full experience, and while some of the responsibility to improve comes down to the tech giants like Facebook, some of that responsibility falls on us, the people sharing our lives on social media. So how can we make our social media content more accessible?
Take a look at our top tips:
Don’t go overboard with emojis
We all love emojis, and sometimes they can be necessary, but try not to go overboard when tweeting or writing your Instagram captions. If somebody is using a screen reader, too many emojis can disrupt the content.
Don’t use emojis out of context
Some social media trends can see us using emojis out of context, e.g. the moon doesn’t always literally always mean the moon, instead, it can be used to signify something shady. And you know those tweets with all the clapping hands in between every word when trying to make a statement? Here’s how that sounds when using a screen reader.
Capitalise your hashtags
When using a multi-word hashtag, make sure to capitalise the first letter of each word, e.g. #OutfitOfTheDay. This helps screen readers differentiate each word.
Add alt text to your images
Whenever you share a photo to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, remember to add alternative (alt) text. This is a short description of what the image contains, e.g. “small dog on lead in autumn leaves”. This allows screen readers to communicate what the image is to those who are visually impaired. When adding alt text, remember to be clear, concise and meaningful.
Caption your videos
This tip isn’t just for helping make your content more accessible for those who are hard of hearing. Not everybody scrolls through social media with their volume up, and chances are if your videos aren’t captioned, your followers will keep on scrolling. Whether you’re sharing on TikTok, Instagram Stories, Reels or IGTV, caption things like what you’re saying, audio clips or sound effects so that everybody can get the full experience. You can do this manually or use apps like Kapwing, Zubtitle, Cliptomatic or Apple Clips to add subtitles.
Provide a text alternative
Quotes will always be popular to share on social media, but if you’re sharing a quote graphic, remember to share a text alternative, whether it be alt text or in the caption.
Share the transcript
YouTube videos are automatically transcribed, so those hard of hearing can access a transcript easily, but this isn’t always the case. If you have a podcast, consider also providing a transcript and link to it in the episode notes, so everybody can enjoy your content.
More advice for making social media content accessible
AbilityNet have some great free resources to help us better understand accessibility online, not just on social media but across the internet. If you have a disability or health condition, see the support available to you from the LJMU Disability Support Team.