Top tips to make your social media pages more accessible

According to WeAreSocial.com, almost 3.5 billion people are now active on social media; this is 45% of the world’s population (https://wearesocial.com/uk/digital-2019)

With social media being so popular, it’s even more important to ensure that your social media pages are accessible for your audience.

What do I mean by accessible?

Accessibility covers many different things, but regarding social media, it is often referring to vision and hearing.

Vision

Individuals with a visual impairment (whether temporary or permanent) will often use screen readers to view social media and web pages.

Imagine coming across the following post on a friend’s page, with an image that you are not able to view fully, if at all. The screen reader reads out the caption and, in the comments, everyone is saying how great it looked.

A blurred image with patches of blue, white and orange. No objects are in focus.
“We had so much fun today, the kids loved it!”

“We had so much fun today, the kids loved it!”

Would you know what they had been doing that day? Would you feel confident to join in the conversation?

Now, how about the post below:

A blurred image, you can roughly see 4 figures with blue in the background.
“We had so much fun today, the kids loved it! [Image description: Sophie and the children are all in wetsuits, sat on the edge of the pool splashing their feet and laughing. The beach, ocean and blue skies are in the background.]”

 “We had so much fun today, the kids loved it! [Image description: Sophie and the children are all in wetsuits, sat on the edge of the pool splashing their feet and laughing. The beach, ocean and blue skies are in the background.]”

Even though you cannot fully see the image, do you feel more involved and included in this? Would you feel able to join in with the discussion?

Tip 1: Add alternate text on platforms which allow this, or image descriptions to your posts with images to ensure the content is accessible for visually impaired users.

Tip 2: Add any hashtags and mentions at the end of your post so that the caption is easier to listen to.

Tip 3: When using hashtags, capitalise each word as this also helps screen readers #thisisanexample would be read as ‘this I sane example’ whereas #ThisIsAnExample would be read ‘this is an example’.

Hearing

Individuals with a hearing impairment will often struggle with pages that use lots of videos as part of their content, but there are things you can do to help.

Imagine coming across the following post but when you click play on the video, you’re not able to hear what the presenter is saying. (Note: This isn’t a video, just an example image)

A woman sits at a microphone, reading from a laptop screen.
“Check out this video, there are some really great tips for improving your marketing and brand.”

“Check out this video, there are some really great tips for improving your marketing and brand.”

If, however, there were captions, then you would be able to follow along and you would gain as much from the content as people able to hear the video.

The same applies to music – have you ever tried the experiment of watching a film without music? It’s very easy to take for granted how much you can gauge about the scene from music alone, or even song lyrics. Imagine seeing a video of a yoga flow, accompanied with the following caption:

A woman holds a wide-legged Child's pose on a pink yoga mat.
“Love this song so much, today I really let my body move intuitively with the music – the lyrics always make me feel good too!”

“Love this song so much, today I really let my body move intuitively with the music – the lyrics always make me feel good too!”

Now, I understand that it is not always easy to describe music fully, especially as it is so subjective, but you can link to lyrics for the song which can help give an idea about the tone of the song, and describe how it makes you feel – relaxed, hyped, happy, sad, etc…

Tip 4: Add captions to videos where possible, there are apps available that do this for you, and I also follow people who add captions to their Instagram story videos manually using the text features. If it’s not possible to add captions but the content is valuable, link to a written blog or transcript.

Tip 5: Try to describe music in a way that helps, whether this is linked to emotion, tempo or genre. Adding links to lyrics can also help individuals understand the context of the song and video too.

I hope you’ve found the tips and exercises in this blog helpful! Please share other ways that we can make social media accessible in the comments below, I’m really keen to learn more and make sure I’m doing everything I can.

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