Two months ago, we provided some advice for updating your website to meet and comply with web accessibility standards and why it is beneficial for your business beyond just being a legal requirement. The inclusivity of accessibility is just as essential on social media so everyone can access, view, and engage with your content. Increasing your content’s accessibility also increases your ability to grow by allowing you to reach your full potential audience. It also simply benefits those with disabilities who might not otherwise be able to access your content. Here are some essential tips for making your posts, stories, reels, etc. more accessible.
Social Media Accessibility
Social media platforms come with numerous accessibility concerns around text, images, and video. There can be a lot to keep in mind, but here are some basics to always consider that will immediately increase your content’s accessibility.
Tips for Accessible Writing
Nearly every bit of content on social media includes some text, a description, a caption, or part of the picture or video. That text is a crucial part of the content, and you want everyone to be able to read and understand it.
- Accessible Language – It is best practice to not include specialist terminology in your writing to ensure a general audience understands it. Avoid jargon, technical terms, or specialized acronyms and abbreviations. Similarly, only use slang if your audience is familiar with it. These specialized terms can confuse and alienate anyone unfamiliar with them, which will include many potential customers or clients. Your writing can still communicate effectively and retain your brand’s voice without them.
- Pascal Case for Hashtags – Hashtags entirely written in lower case can be difficult to read, especially for those with dyslexia or visual impairments. Screen readers and people can also have difficulty separating the words: #momscare could be “moms care” or “mom scare”. Capitalizing each word, called Pascal Case or Upper Camel Case, will dispel any ambiguity and increase legibility: #AnAlbumParty.
- Avoid All Caps: It might be surprising, but studies have repeatedly found that all upper-case text is even less legible than all lower-case because it gives every word the same rectangular shape. Avoid all capital fonts and write with normal, mixed casing as much as possible. The occasional all upper-case word is okay but remember an exclamation mark can be just as effective for communicating excitement or surprise.
- Avoid too many emojis and special characters: Too many emojis and special characters can reduce your text’s legibility. As well, speech-to-text programs read each one of these characters aloud individually, leading for an unpleasant reading experience. For this reason, it is also best to put hashtags at the end of your text. Screen readers read out each # as “number sign”. Placing hashtags at the end allows those using screen readers or text to speech to turn it off when they have already heard the meat of your content.
Tips for Accessible Images and Videos
Images and videos are essential components of your visual content on every social media platform, but they can also present accessibility concerns. Here are tips to ensure your entire audience can enjoy and understand them.
- Alt-text and descriptions: Descriptions of images and videos help users who may have difficulty or cannot see your visual content. These will allow users to visualize the content for themselves. Some platforms support alt-text where the description is engrained into the image, such as Twitter. If the platform does not support alt-text, simply include a description in the post.
- Effective Descriptions: An effective description will include important details that captures both content and tone. Explain graphics, mention colours, identify emotions, and transcribe any text in the video or picture.
- Closed Captions: Adding sound to image and videos rounds out your content, but some of your users may have hearing difficulties. Many also prefer to view content with their devices muted. Closed captions allow those members of your audience to still access that essential aspect of your content. Include captions for any sounds in your videos, e.g. talking, music, and noises. Most platforms can automatically generate closed captions. However, make sure to verify and edit them so they are accurate.
Social Media Accessibility for Text on Your Images and Videos
Text on images and videos adds other accessibility concerns, so we have created a separate section to ensure you are providing an accessible experience and ensuring your content’s quality.
- Text Contrast: Ensure any text on a picture and video contrast with the background. Anyone with visual impairments will have difficulty reading your text if it does not fully stand out. Use complementary colours for your text to have it stand against the background, e.g. black on white or yellow on blue/purple. Do not use colours that both contain reds and greens to create contrast. While the text may contrast for you, it will not for anyone with colourblindness, a common visual impairment.
- Text Contrast and Videos: Videos usually have moving backgrounds and changing colours. Some white text may contrast perfectly with the black at the start of the video, but if that spot becomes white, the text will disappear. A solid background is an easy solution and a feature provided by every social media platform. Creating high contrast between these two, will keep the text visible for the entire time. A less apparent, but similarly effective method is to add an outline or stroke to the text. White text with a black outline should be visible with nearly any background.
- Font Choice and Size: Text on an image should be easily legible. Ensure the font is large enough to see. Stick to typographic fonts that use printing letter. Calligraphic and cursive fonts are more difficult to read.
- Voice to text: Some may not be able to read your text on your images and videos even with these accessibility considerations. You can also provide audio that reads captions or descriptions. Most social media platforms include voice to text that will automatically read any caption on your post with a robotic voice. You can also record yourself for a more personal touch. On TikTok, audio captions are expected and voice-to-text voice has become a recognizable part of the platform.
There is plenty to learn when increasing your content’s accessibility. The best practices are always developing, and platforms are always building more tools. Increasing your content’s accessibility soon becomes habit, and it is extremely valuable to your audience. If you have more questions about social media accessibility, Rosewood’s social media team is happy to help.