Making social media more accessible
Social media has become a popular way for communities, including those with disabilities to connect. However, even though social media seems to be everywhere, it’s not always accessible for everyone.
Some people might be reading this blog post right now, while others might be having it read to them by a screen-reader, using dark mode or other accessibility tools. Well, there are some simple things you can do when you’re posting on social media to make sure your content is as accessible as possible to everyone.
Why it’s important!
According to statistics by Australian Network On Disability, over 4 million people across Australia have some form of disability — that’s one in five people — and it’s a safe bet that a significant number also use social media. Chances are pretty high that you know someone on your social network who lives with a disability.
There are a few practical ways you can go about making your social media more accessible across the major platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Image & Video Descriptions
So how does a screen-reader describe an image to someone who has low vision or is blind? The thing is — a screen-reader will only read text, so we use video and image descriptions to describe what’s happening instead.
Captions and audio descriptions are the best way to open up who can access video clips.
Some social media networks like Facebook and YouTube offer auto-captioning, but it’s best to go in and edit them yourself to make sure they’re accurate. Some other platforms may not have a captioning feature, so if you’re into editing videos, you could try putting the captions in the video itself.
Captions go hand in hand with Video Descriptions, posted with the video itself.
Most major social networks have guides on how to caption for their platforms. You can find out more about captioning on and on .
‘Hard coding’ the captions into a video can be a little trickier, but most video editing programs have guides online detailing how to create captions.
Hashtags and emojis are great, succinct ways of communicating and linking what you’re talking about, but they can cause some trouble.
Hashtags often use a lot of words strung together, such as ‘#multiwordhashtag’ — screen readers may have trouble interpreting these words when pushed together, so it’s best to use what’s known as ‘CamelCase’: capitalising the first letter of each word, i.e: ‘#MuchEasier’. This is easier for everyone, but especially people with neuro-diversity, vision impairment and for people using screen-readers.
We’ve all been guilty of sending a stream of emojis, but these often wind up repeated by screen readers. Imagine being stuck in a loop of ‘GRINNING FACE WITH SMILING EYES GRINNING FACE WITH SMILING EYES GRINNING FACE WITH SMILING EYES’ exclamations — you get the idea. It’s best to be a little lighter on with emojis and avoid sending several similar ones in a row.
Language & Awareness
Basically, it’s just about being aware of how people might see (or not see), hear or experience the stuff you’re posting.
There’s definitely a way to go until all social media networks are accessible for everyone, but you can keep updated on their progress by following their programs and support pages:
If you’d like to find out more about the importance of Audio Descriptions, check out TV4ALL. These are just some things we’ve learned from listening to our community, but we’re always looking to learn more.