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Social Media Accessibility

Social media is an important and useful modern tool for communication, instruction and promotion, yet, accessibility on these platforms can be a significant issue for individuals with disabilities. Accessibility features exist for each social media platform and this webpage will provide tips to help you make your social media posts more inclusive.

View Trinity Disability Services' Social Media Accessibility Presentation here[Powerpoint].

General Tips

General tips for making your social media posts more accessible:

  • Keep words simple and clear: Avoid using acronyms and abbreviations. Write words in full and use plain, simple English.
  • Contact information: Ensure that you add contact information (email, contact number and website) to your profile should someone have a question about your page/profile.
  • Camel Case: Use camel case when writing hashtags to allow screen reader users to better understand/interpret them. Assistive technology will read uncapitalised hashtags as long incoherent words.
  • Hashtags: Put mentions and hashtags at the end of your tweets.
  • Alt Text (alternative text): Add alternative text/descriptions to the images you post. Alt text is words or phrases that are inserted as attributes in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) documents to tell website viewers the nature or contents of an image. Alt text allows screen reading software to interpret images for people with visual impairments.
  • Colour Contrast: If your tweet contains an infographic, make sure the colours are well contrasted, so they are easy to decipher for people who are colour-blind or have a visual impairment.
  • Add captions to your videos: Captions are text versions of the spoken word presented within multimedia. Captions allow the content of web audio and video to be accessible to those who do not have access to audio. Though captioning is primarily intended for those who cannot hear the audio, it has also been found to help those that can hear audio content, those who may not be fluent in the language in which the audio is presented, and those for whom the language spoken is not their primary language, etc. Captions can be either closed or open. Closed captions can be turned on or off, whereas open captions are always visible. Share videos via Youtube to allow for automatically generated closed captioning.
  • Mix It Up: Use more than one social media channel/platform. Vary the content of your posts.
  • Context for Animated GIFs: On platforms that provide Alt Text descriptions on GIFs, include them in the same manner as for still images. Alt Text is only available to screen reader users. Many users who do not use screen readers may have trouble reading images of text in GIFs that are low- resolution, low-contrast, distorted, or only shown briefly. As with images please ensure posts can be understood through non-graphical text alone, even if this means that the text seems visually redundant to the image.
  • Emojis and Emoticons: When text-to-speech technology comes across an emoji, it uses the icon's assigned descriptive information to audibly illustrate the emoji to the user. Please be considerate of screen reader users by using emojis thoughtfully and by placing spaces between them. Use emojis in moderation. Place emojis at the end of posts and tweets to avoid making content confusing or unreadable

Facebook logo Facebook

Tips for making your Facebook posts more accessible:

  • Automatic Alternative/Alt Text for Images. Facebook automatically adds alternative text to images using object recognition technology to create descriptions of images for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Alt text can be edited using a computer, not through the mobile app.`
  • Add captions to photos you post.
  • Upload videos to Youtube and share through Facebook rather than uploading directly to Facebook. Youtube provides closed-captioning.
  • To stay up to date with Facebook's accessibility feature like the Facebook Accessibility page @accessibility
  • Facely HD: Alternative to official Facebook app, more accessible?

Facebook Accessibility Documentation/Support

Twitter logo Twitter

Tips for making your tweets more accessible:

  • Compose image descriptions, alt text, so that the content is accessible to people with visual impairments. https://help.twitter.com/en/using-twitter/picture-descriptions
  • Add descriptions of content heavy images or infographics within the main body of a tweet.
  • Make hashtags accessible using 'camel case'. A screenreader, used by individuals who are blind or visually impaired, will read hashtags written using camel case as individuals words. For example #ThisIsAccessible whereas #thisisnotaccessible
  • When you tweet a hyperlink, indicate whether it leads to [AUDIO], [PIC], or [VIDEO].
  • Use a URL shortener to minimize the number of characters in the hyperlink.
  • Easy Chirp: An accessible alternative to Twitter featuring easier keyboard navigation, a more consistent layout and better support for assistive technology such as screenreaders.

Twitter Accessibility Documentation/Support

Instagram logo Instagram

Instagram's reliance on images and photos means that it is one of the least accessible/inclusive social media platforms. You can, however, make your posts more accessible by following these tips.:

  • Use custom alternative text and edit Instagram's automatically generated alt text to provide more detailed descriptions that also give context to your photos, e.g. "A path in my home town lined with yellow flowers on a sunny day."
  • Use the post's description area to add alternative text to caption video posts.
  • Use the text feature to add captions to your Instagram Stories.

Instagram Accessibility Documentation/Support

Youtube logo YouTube

Zoom logo Zoom Accessibility features

  • Closed Captioning: Available from 3rd party captioning providers. The ability to assign the captioning duty to a participant is also a feature.
  • Keyboard Accessibility: Keyboard shortcuts are available for navigation throughout the platform.
  • Automatic Transcripts: Automatically generated, timestamped, downloadable and searchable transcripts are available for recordings stored in the Zoom cloud. Note that this option is only available to paid subscribers.
  • Screen Reader Support is available across the platform.
  • Pin Video/Specific Speaker: Participants can pin an individual video or speaker to their screen so that they are always visible. This is particularly useful, for example, if sign language interpreters are been used within a meeting.

Zoom Accessibility Documentation/Support

Microsoft Teams logo Microsoft Teams Accessibility features

  • Closed Captions: Live auto-generated closed captions are a feature within MS Teams meetings.
  • Keyboard Accessibility: Keyboard shortcuts are available for navigation throughout the platform.
  • Pin Video/Specific Speaker: Participants can pin an individual video or speaker to their screen so that they are always visible. This is particularly useful, for example, if sign language interpreters are been used within a meeting.
  • Immersive Reader: Available across the platform, provides a variety of ways to read text or have text read out.
  • Zoom feature available across the entire platform to enlarge or minimise text.
  • High Contrast theme available.

MS Teams Accessibility Documentation/Support

Other Resources

The National Disability Authority's Centre for Excellence in Universal Design have developed a Customer Communication Toolkit for the Public Service that provides accessibility guidance on written, spoken & signed and digital communications.

Multimedia Accessibility

Captions

Captions are text versions of the spoken word presented within multimedia. Captions allow the content of web audio and video to be accessible to those who do not have access to audio. Though captioning is primarily intended for those who cannot hear the audio, it has also been found to help those that can hear audio content, those who may not be fluent in the language in which the audio is presented, and those for whom the language spoken is not their primary language, etc.

Common web accessibility guidelines indicate that captions should be:

  • Synchronized - the text content should appear at approximately the same time that audio would be available
  • Equivalent - content provided in captions should be equivalent to that of the spoken word
  • Accessible - caption content should be readily accessible and available to those who need it

Captions as typically seen on television
Screenshot of black and white news footage showing battleships in the distance. Captions display on the image which read - the curtain rises on the greatest military experiment ever undertaken.

Captions can be either closed or open. Closed captions can be turned on or off, whereas open captions are always visible.

Television closed captioning is used by millions of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing; millions more use it in the classroom or in noisy environments—like bars, restaurants, and airports. As the average age of the population increases, so does the number of people with hearing impairments.

Captions as seen in a web media player
Screenshot of captions in a web media player

Open captions are similar to, and include the same text, as closed captions, but the captions are a permanent part of the video picture, and cannot typically be turned off. Open captions are not decoded by the television set, but are a part of the video information. This typically requires a video editing or encoding program that allows you to overlay titles onto the video. The captions are visible to anybody viewing the video clip and cannot be turned off.

For web video, captions can be open, closed, or both. Closed captions are most common, utilizing functionality within video players and browsers to display closed captions on top of or immediately below the video area.

Audio Descriptions

Audio descriptions are intended for users with visual disabilities. They provide additional information about what is visible on the screen. This allows video content to be accessible to those with visual disabilities. Audio descriptions are helpful on the web if visual content in web video provides important content not available through the audio alone. An example of audio descriptions for something you have probably seen and heard is found below. Can you visualize what is being described?

Listen to Audio Descriptions in MP3 Format (152KB)

If web video is produced with accessibility in mind, then audio descriptions are often unnecessary, as long as visual elements within the video are described in the audio.