Guide to Making Social Media Posts Accessible for Visually Impaired

9 min read
10 July 2024

New social media trends constantly emerge. To stay ahead of the curve and ensure business growth, you need to understand how to make social media posts accessible. Note that accessibility goes beyond disabilities; it ensures function, reachability, and facilitation.

What is Vision Impairment and Why is Accessibility Important

Vision impairment refers to vision problems like low vision, vision loss, and blindness. World Health Organization reports that 2.2 billion people live with a near or distant vision impairment Beyond blurry vision, low vision makes it hard to access the digital world easily.

For people living with vision impairments, web accessibility provides access to information. It enables them to understand, navigate, and interact with social media content. The most important reason to implement social media accessibility guidelines is that you care about your audience and customers and how they engage with your brand online. Social media accessibility is an important part of the goal to make digital communications inclusive. Businesses concerned about the accessibility of their platforms may also need a website audit for accessibility and ADA compliance to find out how much work they need to do to improve it.

Guidelines to Create Accessible Social Media Posts

Social media accessibility guidelines are a set of best practices that make social media content inclusive for people with disabilities; this ensures social media is accessible, “easy to use,” and understandable.

1. Provide Color Contrast

Color contrast is the difference in lightness or darkness between two colors. In web accessibility, it’s specifically used to describe the contrast between text content and its background.

Importance of Color Contrast

  • Accessibility: Contrast helps individuals with vision impairment to see text clearly.
  • Readability: Color contrast facilitates text readability.
  • Aesthetics: Good contrast can enhance visuals by balancing designs.

Post-accessibility Implementation

  • Contrast Ratio Checkers: Use contrast ratio checkers to ensure your content meets accessibility guidelines for text contrast.
  • High-Contrast Color Themes: Implement high-contrast color schemes that prioritize readability. The rule of thumb is dark text on a light background or vice versa.
  • Limited Color Palette: Maintain a balanced color palette to ensure consistent and well-contrasted design elements.
  • Device and Background Testing: Test your design across various devices and backgrounds; this ensures adaptability and accessibility across different viewing experiences.

2. Provide Alt Text

Alt text, also known as alternative text, is a written description of images. It serves three main purposes:

  • Accessibility: Alt text aids individuals who rely on screen readers by converting text to speech.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Search engines use alt text to comprehend visual content and improve image search ranking.
  • User Experience: During slow internet connections, alt text provides context of images that failed to load for users.

How to Provide Alt Text on Different Social Media Platforms

  • LinkedIn: When creating a new post, locate the “Alt Text” section near the image, type a concise description that conveys the image content in 300 characters or less, and press “Save.”
  • Facebook: After uploading a photo, individuals will see the “Edit” option that contains “Alternative Text.” Upon clicking edit, individuals will have two options: automatic description or manual. After writing or adding Alt Text, click “Save.”
  • Instagram: In Instagram, Alt text options are found after tapping next in “Create a New Post.” At the bottom, individuals will find “Write Alt Text” Within “Advanced Settings” under “Accessibility.” After writing or adding Alt Text, click “Save.”
  • Twitter: In Twitter, Alt text options are found in the “Edit” section on the bottom right; look for the “Add Description.” after completing the description, click “Save.”
  • TikTok: TikTok doesn’t provide Alt text; still, you can add video descriptions. When uploading a video, you will find a caption button on the right side of the screen. TikTok will automatically generate captions; still, you may edit content using the pencil icon.

3. Provide Captions

Captions are written texts of photo or video content on social media.

Why Are Captions Important?

  • They provide context and meaning, whether in videos or photos.
  • They increase engagement by intriguing and raising the interest of viewers.
  • They make content accessible to people with disabilities.
  • They may include keywords and hashtags, increasing search results.

How to Provide Captions on Different Social Media Platforms

  • Facebook: You can use automatic captions, allowing Facebook to generate captions or upload a caption file in SRT format using a third-party service.
  • Instagram: You can type captions in the text box provided when creating a new post or use Instagram’s auto-generated captions.
  • TikTok: You can use built-in auto-captions or an editing app that allows captioning, like CapCut.
  • YouTube: You can use YouTube’s automatic caption generation or add captions.
  • LinkedIn: You can use automatic captions, allowing LinkedIn to generate captions or upload a caption file in SRT format using a third-party service.
  • Twitter: You can use automatic captions, allowing Twitter to generate captions or upload a caption file in SRT format using a third-party service.

4. Ensure Color Alone Isn’t Used to Represent Information

Information representation is the visual manifestation of data and content, including font, icons, graphs, and charts.

Importance of Using Color Schemes

  • Accessibility: Some individuals may have trouble detecting light colors, so it’s crucial to consider how the eye perceives color, especially for individuals with color blindness or visual impairment.
  • Color Meaning Can Vary: Colors have a cultural significance and attributed meaning, so it’s essential to consider the proper use of each color.

How to use Colors in Post-accessibility for Information Representation

  • Use Color Context: This means contrasting shapes and symbols to state a message “E.g.”: the stop sign.
  • Prioritize Grayscale Accessibility: Individuals with color blindness may use greyscale preview; ensure the web design remains understandable in grayscale mode.
  • Emphasis: Use a high-contrast color to highlight important and complex information.

5. Use Video Descriptions

Similar to Alt text, video descriptions are written texts that describe a video’s visual content. Here’s why video descriptions are important:

  • Accessibility: Video descriptions can increase users’ desire to check video regardless of ability. It ensures that the content meets web accessibility guidelines and is accessible to all.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Descriptions can increase a video’s reach using relevant keywords that search engines rely on.
  • Engagement: A good video description can help viewers learn more about content and may increase website or social media visits.

Post-accessibility Implementation

  • Provide a clear and concise summary.
  • Ensure the most critical information is at the beginning.
  • Include a call to action.
  • Use relevant hashtags to help individuals discover videos.
  • Consider offering transcripts for viewers who prefer to read rather than listen.

6. Write Hashtags in Camel Case

Hashtags are single words or sentences that have the “#” symbol before them. They make posts discoverable by anyone searching for that specific word or phrase.

Why Camel Case for Hashtags?

Camel case is when individuals write the first letter of each word capitalized (e.g., #SummerVibes). It improves readability for users and screen readers. Here’s how:

  • Using capital letters to separate words makes it easier for people to understand the intended phrase within a hashtag.
  • By separating words, you ensure that screen readers will announce each word separately.

Implementing Hashtags in Post-accessibility

  • Place hashtags in a separate line at the end of your post to make it easier for screen reader users to understand the main content.
  • Use a few hashtags, ideally under 10.
  • Avoid special characters and abbreviations.
  • Hashtags allow users to search for content. It can be helpful, especially regarding user-generated content or specific categories.
  • Hashtags can categorize content on profiles. For example, an e-commerce store might use hashtags for product types.

7. Be Cautious with Emojis

Emojis are digital icons that individuals use in online communication to convey sentiments, thoughts, and objects.

Importance of Emojis in Posts

  • Function: Emojis aid text-based communication by adding emotional cues using nonverbal signals, like facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice.
  • Connotation: Emojis can vary depending on the context, culture, and platform.

Post-accessibility Implementation

  • Use Emojis strategically
  • Consider what emojis will resonate with users.
  • Maintain an emoji style to create a cohesive profile.
  • Test how users respond to emoji usage and adjust as needed.

8. Use Descriptive Links

Descriptive links are hyperlink texts that explain the path users will be directed to after clicking them.

Importance of Descriptive Links

  • Accessibility: Descriptive links make websites navigable for users with screen readers. Screen readers read the description so users can decide if it is relevant without seeing the surrounding content.
  • Usability: Clear link text helps all users find the information they seek faster.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Descriptive link text can include keywords, improving a post’s ranking in search results.

Post-accessibility Implementation

  • Use texts with keywords related to the content on the linked page.
  • Keep texts brief.
  • Describe the content users will find at the destination.
  • Consider the surrounding text to ensure the link description is clear.

9. Keep Your Posts Short

Short posts are bite-sized content that uses 40 to 50 characters for posts, while videos are under 3 minutes. They can be written text, visuals like infographics, or even short videos.

Why Keeping Posts Short is Important

  • Short posts cater to shorter attention spans, allowing users to grasp the message quickly.
  • Short posts are easier to read on smaller screens and require less scrolling.
  • Concise posts make it easier for users to find the necessary information.

Post-accessibility Implementation

  • Break down long content into smaller sections.
  • Use bullet points and subheadings to help users find information quickly.
  • Use Images, infographics, and short videos to make content more engaging.
  • Write clear headlines that accurately reflect the content to grab the user’s attention.

10. Use Inclusive Language

Inclusive language is respectful and considers people’s feelings, thoughts, race, and age, i.e., their background or characteristics.

Importance of Inclusive Language

  • Inclusive language ensures everyone can understand and communicate with content despite their abilities, cultural background, or mastery of language.
  • Inclusive language can reach a wider audience as it resonates with diverse groups of people.
  • Inclusive language shows that a brand values diversity and respects its users.

How to Implement Inclusive Language in Post-accessibility

  • To use inclusive language, sentences should be in first-person; for instance, “disabled people” becomes “people with disabilities.”
  • Use gender-neutral language and avoid assuming gender.
  • Avoid jargon, technical terms, and idioms, and keep language clear, concise, and easy to read.
  • Be mindful of cultural references.
  • Use images that represent a diverse range of people.

11. Be Open to Feedback

Feedback is a user’s opinion regarding a product, service, or profile aesthetic.

Why Be Open to Feedback?

  • Feedback helps brands understand how users view their content.
  • Feedback can address issues like confusing navigation or unclear calls to action, improving usability.
  • A well-designed site, informed by feedback, builds trust and boosts credibility.

Post-accessibility Implementation

  • Perform internal testing within different departments to get maximum insights.
  • Test content on reel life users and gather feedback before uploading.
  • Integrate website feedback tools that allow users to comment or address areas of the design.

Get Inclusive Marketing Right

The key to accessibility lies in considering content from a viewer’s perspective; it isn’t necessarily about disability but simplicity and adaptability.

Accessibility is Key:

  • Materials should use multiple formats and be accessible to everyone.
  • Materials should have inclusive language with translations for key marketing messages.
  • Materials should beware of stereotypes and avoid cliches.
  • Gather feedback, listen to users, and adapt accordingly.