Accessibility in Social Media: Current Best Practices

Gray concrete wall with the words "Everyone is welcome" painted on it. Underneath are several doodles in chalk.
Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

When I accepted a role at the Canopy by Hilton Ithaca Downtown as their Sales Coordinator and Social Media Champion last year, my first order of business was to ensure that we were being inclusive, so that our social media content would be available to everyone. As a new property, with fresh social media accounts, we were granted a prime opportunity to be accessible from the start. But even if you already have active social media accounts, it is not too late to start following better accessibility practices.

However, with these practices only just beginning to gain traction, and always changing, finding current best practices wasn’t an easy task.

I decided to compile a list of several suggestions, predominantly for posting images and text, which I had originally posted to an exclusive community hub, and – with some updated information and edits – would like to share what I learned here to a wider audience.

{These are current as of July 2020.}

Some General Best Practices:

  • Screen readers read emoji as text (e.g. “red heart”), thus it makes sense to limit emoji usage in a main post (Imagine hearing “yellow star” thirty times!). This function does, however, offer a great way to take advantage of limited characters.
  • Keep your alt text descriptions concise, yet impactful
  • Considering SEO, you have the ability to use keywords (and company/brand names) in alt text as well
  • Images are already identified as such by screen readers, so there’s no reason to start alternative text with “Image/Picture/Photo of…”
  • Edit automatically generated alternative text to provide context and/or more description.
  • When posting a hyperlink, indicate what type of media it leads to (e.g. [PIC], [VIDEO])
  • Use a URL shortener to minimize the amount of characters in a hyperlink  
  • Add hashtags and mentions at the end of your posts, or place them inside of a comment
  • Camel case your hashtags, this helps screen readers differentiate words (“#BlackGirlMagic” as opposed to “#blackgirlmagic”)
  • Minimize the use of acronyms
  • Avoid using ableist language
  • Representation matters – showcase diversity without being exploitative

Accessing and Utilizing Alt-Text Features Using Native Apps:

Twitter 

Enabling Accessibility Features

In menu, navigate to “Settings & Privacy”

Under the “General” heading, choose the “Accessibility” option

Select necessary checkbox to enable accessibility features, save

Adding Alt Text via Desktop

Compose new Tweet, add image as usual

Choose “Edit” function, and ALT tab OR the “Add Description” option under the image

Enter description in the field, select “Save” at the top right corner, send Tweet

Adding Alt Text via Mobile Application

Compose new Tweet, add image as usual

Locate “Add Description” near the bottom of the image, and select it

Confirm addition of Alt Text

Enter description in the field, select “Done” at the top right hand corner, send Tweet

Instagram

From the New Post screen, navigate to “Advanced Settings”

Under the “Accessibility” heading, choose “Write Alt Text” 

Enter image description in the field, and save

Facebook

Adding Alt Text via Desktop

Note: You are only able to add alt text before posting a photo, if you’re using Facebook via computer

Editing Alt Text via Desktop

To edit alt text after your photo is posted, go to the post and select the photo, which will open in Theater

Hover over the image, select “Options” to access the menu, select “Change Alt Text”, confirm “Override Generated Alt Text”

Enter description in the field, and save

Editing Alt Text via Mobile Application

Navigate to the post, select the photo, which will open in Theater

Tap the three dots in the upper right corner to gain access to a menu

Choose “Edit alt text”

Enter image description in the field, and save

Monique Anna Elizabeth Logo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s