Social media accessibility best practice
5 easy, actionable ways to make your social media content more accessible.
1. Avoid special characters and symbols
Screen readers and voice over tools interpret special characters in different ways, which can delivery a very disruptive experience to the listening. For example, instead of & use 'and', instead of + write 'plus', all this will make your posts easier to interpret for assistive technologies and give a better experience to all your followers.
2. Use #CamelCase for all hashtags
Camel Case is when the first letter of each word is capitalised where there is no space between words.
Use camel case when writing hashtags to allow screen reader users to better understand and interpret them. Assistive technology will read uncapitalised hashtags as long incomprehensible words.
3. Use emojis instead of emoticons
Most screen readers treat emoticons like normal punctuation, rather than interpreting :) as 'smiley face' it will say the names of the punctuation.
Emojis are accessible than emoticons because they have alt-text that explains what the image is to screen reader users. Be sure to check the alt description before posting, the emoji alt-tag may be different to what you think it is!
In general the rule of thumb if you want your post to be accessible as possible is to limit the use of emojis and always include them at the end of your message.
VoiceOver will read the content from left to right, and it may not make sense if the emoji comes before the words.
Best practice for using emojis:
- Don't use an emoji as a replacement for text.
- Be careful where you place your emojis.
- Use emojis sparingly and avoid a long emoji string.
- Double-check emoji alt text descriptions.
- Don't rely on emojis to convey your message to a screen reader.
4. Add an alternative text description to every image you post
Alt text refers to invisible description of images which are read aloud to visually impaired users on a screen reader.
The alt text should be the most concise description possible of the image's purpose. Aim to put the most important information at the beginning.
Twitter has started rolling out features that reminds to add an Alt Text to images your post. You can activate this in your Twitter Settings.
5. Always caption your videos
Whether posting a video on social media, or embedding it on your website, always include captions. Captions are used by viewers in many ways, and are not only beneficial to users with hearing impairment. Captions can be either closed or open. Closed captions can be turned on or off, whereas open captions are always visible.
YouTube creates automated captions, however, these captions may be inaccurate so be sure to review and edit them as needed.
Emojis and accessibility: How to use them properly
How to make images accessible for people on Twitter
How to add or edit the alternative text for a photo on Instagram