HomeBlogTop Tips to Make Your Social Media More Accessible for Everyone

Top Tips to Make Your Social Media More Accessible for Everyone

April 27th, 2022

Summary: Find out how to make your social media accounts more accessibility friendly with these 6 tools and best practices. Think you don’t need to worry about accessibility unless you’re an influencer? Think again! Building access for everyone into our daily lives makes everything we do easier — no matter who you are.

Social media is all about creating connections, but for many — especially the 1 billion people around the world experiencing some kind of disability today — it can be difficult to use social media the way it’s intended. That’s why social media accessibility is so important. As the name suggests, social media accessibility is the practice of making it easy for anyone to access, understand, and enjoy your content.

By using these accessibility tools and best practices outlined below, you’ll be able to connect with more people around the world and make them feel included and welcomed when they interact with you on social media. And if you have a website? You can also attract more customers with an accessible website. It’s a win-win.

Use Closed Captioning on Videos

Closed captioning is vital for those with hearing impairments, those who speak different languages than your own, or those who prefer their videos with the sound off. Not only that, studies conducted by Verizon and Facebook have demonstrated that videos with closed captioning can help with recall and are more frequently viewed than those without.

You can, of course, add your own closed captioning, but Facebook Live, YouTube, TikTok, IGTV, Instagram Stories, and as of recently, Instagram feed videos, all make it easy with auto-generated captions. Since they’re auto-generated, mistakes may occur, but you can edit them if you spot any errors or typos.

Include Alt Text to Images

Alternative, or alt, text is descriptive image captions you can include on a post so that those with visual impairments can use assistive text-to-speech technology (like a screen reader) to understand what’s going on in an image.

Illustration of a homesick camel with the CamelCase hashtag: #HomeSweetHome above.

When writing alt text, you can either use object recognition technology or add them in yourself. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all provide space to add them in the alt-image description fields.) Either way, it’s important to be very detailed and thorough in your description. For example, instead of writing, “photograph of a dog,” let people know what’s really going on: “a fluffy, black dog is sitting in a lush meadow surrounded by birds and trees.” If there are any text or GIFs on the image, make sure to include descriptive text for those, too.

Generally, alt-text can be found at the bottom of the image and are formatted as such: image description: [description of image]

CamelCase Your Hashtags

We recommend using CamelCase when it comes to hashtags. For example, instead of writing #earthlinkinternet or #EARTHLINKINTERNET, you’ll want to write it out like this: #EarthLinkInternet. This ensures that screens readers can easily differentiate words instead of reading it as a long string of letters or chopping it up into gibberish. Plus, it’s just easier to read. It also helps ensure that your message comes across how you intend it to. Don’t believe us? Do a quick web search of hashtag fails.

Go Light on the Emojis

For many, emojis are an everyday part of social media, whether to express an emotion or to just have some fun. But for those with cognitive or visual impairments, emojis can often end up being more trouble than they’re worth. That’s because screen readers will read the alt description of the emoji, which can make captions overly wordy, confusing, or just plain bizarre.

The most important thing to consider when using emojis is to make sure you’re using them appropriately. Don’t use emojis to replace words and only use them at the end of a caption. Make sure to use only a few at a time, because a long string of emojis can get repetitive. For example, sending someone a good luck message like this one, ???, will be read as “Crossed Fingers Crossed Fingers Crossed Fingers.” It may be easier to wish someone a simple “good luck!” instead.

Also keep in mind that some emojis can mean different things to different people. This emoji ? can mean “thanks,” “high five,” or “praying for you.” The alt text, however, will read, “person with folded hands,” so think twice before sending it as a “high five.” If you’re not sure how an emoji’s alt text will be interpreted, feel free to check out its meaning on the Unicode Character Table.

When it comes to emoticons, it’s best to stay away from these altogether. Since all punctuation marks will be read out loud, a symbol like this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (also known as a “shruggie”) will be interpreted as “Macron, backslash, underline, katakana, underline, slash, macron.”

Ad reading: Get a smart fix that works. Get Unlimited Remote Tech Support

Avoid Fancy Custom Fonts

We’ve all come across them at one time or another—fancy custom fonts like ????, ???? or ????.

What you might not know is that these are unique symbols made in the Unicode Standard and are not actually typefaces. This means screen readers don’t see them as text and won’t be able to decipher and read them. These fonts may look cool, but they pose a real problem for those who rely on text-to-speech technology.

Incorporate Color Contrasts

For those with colorblindness or visual deficiencies, using appropriate color contrasts can be a major help. According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, the contrast between the color of the text and the background should be at least 4.5 to 1. If possible, you should also skip green/red or blue/yellow combos and opt for solid backgrounds over patterns. Use tools like Color Oracle or the Toptal Colorblind Web Page Filter to simulate what a color-blind individual may see when they look at your posts.

If you’d like to learn more about each social media platform’s accessibility settings and announcements, you can find them for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok.

With these accessibility tools and best practices, connecting with people has never been easier. Get internet that can keep up by calling us today at 866-383-3080 or checking out our home internet options.

Tess Hansen

Tess Hansen

Tess Hansen is a copywriter based in Brooklyn. She writes about all things digital for EarthLink, with a focus on using tech and high-speed internet to make your life easier and safer.

See all posts from Tess Hansen.