Creating An Accessible Social Media Experience From A to Z

Global Accessibility Awareness Day - Thursday, May 18, 2023
Thursday, May 11, 2023

circle with GAAD in center and accessible keyboard at bottom

Join us in commemorating the 12th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on Thursday, May 18, 2023! The objective of GAAD is to encourage conversations, reflections, and education on digital accessibility and inclusivity, particularly for the over one billion individuals with disabilities or impairments worldwide.

Below is a guide from A to Z that can assist you in increasing your awareness of the actions you can take to support individuals with disabilities or impairments.

To explore more information, check out the Global Accessibility Awareness Day website.

Download our Zoom background to show support and raise awareness this Global Accessibility Awareness Day!


A - Alt Text:

Alt Text is a written image description that describes the content of a photo. This is helpful to people with visual impairments who use screen readers. When an image cannot load or for people using text-based browsers, the Alt Text will display in place of the image to provide context.

Keep it short and simple and include important details. If there is text in the photo, include it in the Alt Text.

Although many social media platforms automatically generate Alt Text, they are almost always inaccurate, so don't rely on them.

Adding Alt Text to your images may help your SEO ranking, but avoid adding keywords in the Alt Text area in place of a description.

If the platform you are using does not have an Alt Text option, add it to the caption of your post.

B - Be Consistent:

Consistency is key when it comes to making your social media posts accessible. Stick to a consistent format and style for your posts. Take some extra time at the start to ensure that your posts are accessible.

C - Caption your Videos:

Add captions to all videos in your social media posts. Captions provide a text-based version of the audio for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and help people with learning disabilities. Many platforms can automatically generate captions, but they are usually inaccurate. If you don't want to add your own captions, take some time to edit the auto-generated version to make sure it is as accurate as possible. Many paid and free transcription services can let you edit your captions or edit them for you. There are two types of transcriptions: open captions, which are embedded in the video, and closed captions, which can be turned on and off.

D - Describe Visuals:

When sharing visual content such as infographics or charts, provide a description of what the visual is conveying. This goes back to Alt Text. Although these cases may be more involved, the same concept applies. This can apply to videos as well.

E - Emojis:

Use emojis sparingly and avoid using them as the primary means of conveying information. Screen readers read the descriptions of every emoji used, which can make it tedious for readers when there are several in a row or scattered throughout a post. Many people associate emojis differently than they are described, which can cause confusion. It's acceptable to use emojis, but limit them to a few per post.

F - Font Size, Style, and Color:

Make sure your font size is large enough to be easily read by everyone, including those with visual impairments. Avoid using bold and italics to make your font look fancier, as many screen readers will read the attribute of the font before every piece of text. Use standard fonts that are easy to read. Many fancy fonts are difficult for people with visual impairments and learning disabilities to read and may not be readable to screen readers. Make sure that the color of your font contrasts well with the background. For example, use light font on a dark background and a dark font on a light background. Font that is too close in color to the background can be hard to read. Solid backgrounds are the best. If that's not possible, add an opaque layer beneath the text.

G - Gifs:

Gifs and memes are a fun way to interact or start conversations, but make sure that they follow best practices for accessibility. Treat them the same way you would any other image. Add Alt Text so that screen reader users can stay in the loop, and add other visual descriptions for Gifs. 

H – Hashtags:

Capitalize the first letter of each word. This makes it easier for screen reader users to understand the hashtag. This is also known as camelcase.

Separate your hashtags with spaces so that they are more readable for people with visual impairments and are more navigable.

I – Inclusive language:

Inclusive language is important in making your audience feel that they are included in your community and that they are being represented accurately.

When speaking about people with disabilities, use person first language. Keep in mind that everyone has a preference in how they would like to be referenced.

Remember to respect pronouns when referring to someone.

Do your research about your community and others to learn how they would like to be identified.

J – Jump into it:

Don't worry about getting it absolutely perfect when you're learning. No one's perfect, and you're not going to get it right 100 % of the time. Start small and work your way up. That being said, do what you can to follow these tips and make your posts as accessible as possible. Also keep in mind that you can edit posts later most of the time and correct mistakes or update your posts to make them more accessible.

K – Keyboard Accessibility:

Ensure your social media posts are accessible via keyboard-only navigation.

This is something that you may not have control over, but it's something to keep in mind. Screen reader users do not use the mouse to navigate. Instead, all of their navigation is done via the keyboard. If they are unable to use their keyboard to navigate, your content will be inaccessible to them.

L – Links:

Use descriptive link text that accurately describes the content of the link.

Some platforms will not allow you to use link text. In this case, try to keep links at the end of your posts. This prevents screen reader users from having to listen to several long URLs.

M – Meaningful Content:

Make sure your content is meaningful and not just clickbait. This will ensure that all users find value in your social media posts.

N – Negative attitudes and stereotypes:

People with disabilities as well as other marginalized groups face negative attitudes and stereotypes on a daily basis. Create a positive and safe space for people to view and interact with your content. This may be an opportunity to do some research and educate yourself.

O – Other formats:

When possible, provide multiple formats. For example, put Alt Text in the caption of your post when there is no specific area to do so. Provide a separate document for transcriptions for an optional way to access them. When accessibility is not baked into your social media platform of choice, look at other ways to make your content accessible. 

P – Plain Language:

Use plain language and avoid technical jargon that may be difficult for some users to understand. Everyone should be able to understand your content.

Keep your language simple and don't over complicate things unnecessarily. If your content is highly technical in nature, provide ways for people to learn the things they may not understand. 

Q – Quoting and sharing:

When quoting and sharing posts, take some time and notice if it's accessible. If not, see if there are any ways to make it accessible before reposting. Does it have Alt Text? If not, you can add it in the comments or in your post.

If a video doesn't have captions, you could provide a transcript or find a way to repost the video with captions. If these are not viable options, maybe reach out to the creator about these things. Maybe you will encourage them to be a little more accessible when they post online.

R – Research:

You can't be expected to know it all. Take some time to do your research about things you can do to make your content more accessible. There is a wealth of information out there, so start with a simple Google search and work your way up from there. Another great way to research is by following creators with disabilities and learning about their experiences. Additionally, check out how they make their content accessible.

S – Stories:

Stories are really popular these days, but they are not accessible. However, there are some things you can do to make sure that you are including everyone in your audience.

Make sure that your stories have captions for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Most platforms have no way of adding Alt Text, but some have auto generated ones that are inaccurate. To accommodate people with visual impairments, also post it in your feed with proper Alt Text, captions, and a visual description of what's going on if it's a video.

T – Test

If you're in doubt that your content is accessible, test it yourself. Check your captions for accuracy, check the contrast of your photos with a contrast checker (there are several for free online), andcheck the screen reader compatibility using the built in screen reader on your device. I would recommend checking out a couple of tutorials first before testing with a screen reader as it will completely change the way you interact with your device. 

If you're unsure, you could also ask someone you know or someone in your audience to test your content and give you feedback.

U – Usability:

Usability refers to the experience someone has when visiting your profile. With good accessibility and quality content, users will stick around and interact. If your content is not accessible, your followers are unable to get the full experience you provide and may not keep following. These tips will help you create an experience that your followers will want to be there for.

V – Video Descriptions:

Provide detailed descriptions of the content of your videos in the caption or in the video itself.

This is helpful for people who are visually impaired, people on a tight schedule, and so many others.

One way to do this is through Audio Description, which is a voiceover that describes what is happening in the video. A written description can be helpful as well if audio description is not feasible.

W – Web Accessibility:

Follow web accessibility guidelines to ensure your social media posts are accessible to all users.

In most cases, you are not able to control how the platform you are using handles web accessibility as a whole, but your content is still being posted online. At most, you can make sure that your content complies with these guidelines. If you don't want to read the entire set of guidelines right away, there are several helpful checklists online to get you started.

X – X out accessibility:

Accessibility can seem daunting at first, but it is so important. Before throwing in the towel, realize that accessibility is for everyone. By making your content more accessible, you are making everyone's life a little easier. Start small and then work your way up.

Y – YouTube Captions:

Ensure that all captions on your YouTube videos are accurate and synchronized. Don't rely on auto generated captions. They are almost always inaccurate. If you find it difficult to tackle this on your own, make use of community features and have your audience help you out. .

Z – Zero Barriers:

Strive to remove all barriers to accessibility in your social media posts and ensure that all users can access your content.

Written by Treacy "Lauren" Flener