6 Simple Ways to Make Your Social Media Accessible

How do you know if your social media content is accessible? Do you use CamelCase, alt text, captions and plain language? When your social media content isn’t accessible, you’re potentially excluding a huge part of your audience from your message. You could also be missing out on important conversions, conversations, and connections.

We invited Alexa Heinrich to participate in our Learn + Launch webinar series to share simple ways digital marketers can make their digital content accessible. She is the Social Media Manager for St. Petersburg College in Florida and a self-described “accidental expert” on digital accessibility. Watch the full webinar below and read on for our top takeaways from Alexa’s expertise. 

Why Make Your Social Media Content Accessible?

According to the World Health Organization, 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss and at least 2.2 billion people experience blindness or have a vision impairment. This is a significant portion of the global population that has a serious sensory disability and possibly relies on assistive technology.

Around the world, people with disabilities rely on assistive technology like:

  • Screen readers
  • Text-to-speech programs,
  • Captions

Disability isn’t black and white. Someone may use an assisted device because they have a permanent sensory disability, such as blindness or hearing loss. Another could be temporary due to an injury (like a bruised eye) or illness such as losing your hearing from an ear infection. Possibly, someone’s disability is affected by their environment or circumstances, like having trouble seeing in different levels of lighting or hearing in a crowded room.

Inclusive best practices can have a direct impact on your marketing efforts and affect how many people you reach with your digital content.

How to Make Your Social Media Accessible

#Hashtags

Everyone uses hashtags and it’s easy to make hashtags with more than one word accessible: capitalize each word. Sometimes called title case, pascal case, or CamelCase, capital letters help screen readers denote the separate words enabling them to pronounce the hashtag correctly. CamelCase is also easier for everyone to read, regardless of you using assisted technology or not.

Plain Language

In 2010, the Clean Writing Act was signed into law in the United States, requiring all federal agencies use clear communication that the public can understand. Writing in plain language is a best practice for most brands. It’s clear, concise, uses an active voice, conversational, and written for your target audience. It’s also easier for someone with a cognitive disorder to understand. Win, win. Find guidelines, examples, training and more at plainlanguage.gov

Emojis

Did you know that each emoji has its own unique description? When a screen reader comes across an emoji, it will read the emoji’s description aloud to the user. So, take a look at the last social post you wrote with emojis. Try reading it out loud including describing the emoji you used within the copy. Was it easy to understand your message? 

It’s also important to know that screen readers will often shorten a line of emojis if only one icon is used. For instance, this: 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 would be read as “5 rockets” instead of the device saying the word “rocket” 5 times. It’s also best to put emojis at the end of your content, otherwise your message could be confusing. 

The next time you write content with emojis, be sure to reference Emojipedia.org, an excellent resource for digital content creators who want to be smart and strategic with how they use emojis. This website lists every known emoji along with their different appearances and descriptions across platforms devices and browsers.

Image Alt Text

How does someone with a vision disability experience a picture? Screen readers need alt text, which is a short physical summary of the image in order to accurately describe it to a user. Alt text can be auto generated by some platforms but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest, all allow you to manually write alt text for a better user experience. 

  • Keep it concise
  • Don’t use “picture/photo of” as it’s implied by the screen reader
  • Use descriptions of anything besides a photo: painting, screenshot, illustration
  • Avoid copy-heavy graphics, they contain flattened text which isn’t readable by a screen reader

Be sure to watch the webinar for a workaround Alexa uses when adjusting alt text on social media isn’t feasible.

Audio Descriptions and Captioning on Video

How does someone know what’s going on in a video without dialogue? With audio descriptions, a form of narration used to provide information surrounding key visual elements and videos for blind and visually impaired consumers. They’re an accessible option on popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

Every video should contain captions, sometimes called subtitles, so deaf and hard of hearing users can understand and enjoy the content. There are two types of captions. Closed captioning can be toggled on and off based on the preferences of the viewer, whereas, open captioning is permanently burned onto a video and always visible. Youtube offers closed captioning and Tik Tok has open captions. Here are four easy steps to add closed captioning to your video. 

  • Upload a video to YouTube, mark it as unlisted
  • Let YouTube auto-generate captions
  • Edit them, adding audio descriptions as needed
  • Publish the captions with your video 

Watch the full webinar for more details, insights, tips and tricks. Neat + Nimble hosts monthly webinars on a variety of digital marketing topics. Learn more and sign up for  our upcoming Learn + Launch webinars here. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our Social Media Management services, you can learn more here.