Section 2 - Accessibility in practice


How to be more accessible on social media

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A survey of Facebook users in 50 countries found that more than 30% of people reported having difficulty with seeing, hearing, speaking, organizing thoughts, walking, or grasping with their hands. And considering that around 78% of consumers say that social media posts impact their purchasing decisions, it’s in your best interest as a company to reach as wide an audience as possible, including those with disabilities. Since you are not the owner of these platforms, your organization is confined to how accessible the platform itself is, however, there are plenty of ways to create accessible content that reaches the widest audience possible.

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Around 78% of consumers say that social media posts impact their purchasing decisions

How to be more accessible on Twitter

Twitter has greatly increased accessibility options for users across all platforms in the past several years, especially when it comes to posting images. This is a big consideration for businesses, since research shows that tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images.

Images

The Twitter Help Center provides step-by-step directions for adding descriptions to any image you post, which makes the image accessible for low-vision users and those who use assistive technology. The help center also provides instructions for using Twitter with assistive tech like VoiceOver for Mac, JAWS for Windows, and NVDA for Windows.

Video

In March of 2019, Twitter announced that users can now add subtitles to videos from within Twitter itself, which is a huge step forward for hearing impaired users, as well as the majority of users who watch social media videos without sound.

How to be more accessible on Facebook

As the world’s most popular social network, Facebook has a huge responsibility to provide an accessible environment for its billions of users. The Facebook Help Center features extensive accessibility information for its users, including step-by-step instructions for using keyboard shortcuts, screen readers, closed captions for video, and more. Facebook’s built-in navigation assistant is one of the network’s biggest accessibility assets. This tool is designed to help screen reader and other assistive technology users to better navigate Facebook. Facebook allows users to provide descriptions for all images and videos, making it easy to offer text-based captions for screen readers and other assistive technology. With video playing an increasingly prominent role on Facebook, enabling captions is a key consideration. Facebook makes it simple to add captions to videos via the SubRip (.srt) file format. It’s also useful to know that even if you don’t provide alt text on an image, Facebook can handle it for you. In 2016, the company introduced an algorithm that recognizes common objects and concepts in photos and generates tags that make the images more accessible for low-vision users. Of course, if you want to make sure your images are identified properly, adding descriptions yourself is still the recommended method, but it is good to see a social media platform taking a proactive approach to accessible content.

How to be more accessible on LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s website and content perform well from an accessibility standpoint, and their internal team has shown dedication to creating a more inclusive environment. Even so, the site currently offers little information for users wishing to add descriptive text or other accessibility considerations to their own posts. In early 2019 some users noticed that it was possible to add alt text to LinkedIn images, but it appears that LinkedIn never announced the functionality, so not that many users are aware of it. To add alt text to an image, tap the camera icon option in the ‘Start a post’ box, select your image, then tap Add alt text.

How to be more accessible on Instagram

Overall, Instagram provides a good experience for users with disabilities. Since it is an image-sharing social media platform, when people provide detailed descriptions of what there are posting, then the image in a sense has alt text. In addition to that, Instagram also uses object recognition technology that generates descriptions of images for screen readers. As mentioned before, however, it is best practice to add custom alt text to your Instagram posts, rather than rely on auto generated descriptions. Once you’ve finished editing your image and adding filters, tap Advanced Settings, then tap Write Alt Text, then Save. For Instagram videos, the caption space can be used to provide a transcript, including quotes, dialogue, and descriptions of the action. In September 2020, Instagram released automatic captions on IGTV and in March 2021, began testing auto-captions for Instagram Stories, which are steps in the right direction.

How to be more accessible on YouTube, Vimeo, and TikTok

Whether you’re putting together a tutorial, trying a new marketing approach, or sharing a keynote speech from your latest conference, videos play a huge role in many companies’ social strategies. There are many video services and social channels out there, but YouTube and Vimeo are likely the most widely used by organizations.

YouTube

Ensure all videos have closed captions, an audio description, and a full transcript (when possible because a transcript is useful for both those with hearing and visual impairments). While YouTube provides a feature that automatically captions videos less than 10 minutes in length, you should be cautious to make sure the transcript is accurate. Google provides easy instructions for adding captions and subtitles to all videos.

Vimeo

Vimeo also provides built-in options and easy instructions for adding subtitles and captions to any video, and also allows users to purchase subtitles and transcription services from any of three trusted providers: 3Play, Rev, and Amara. Keyboard traps are another important thing to keep in mind when posting to a social video channel. A keyboard trap occurs when a person who uses a keyboard to navigate cannot move focus away from an interactive element or control using the keyboard alone. An example would be if a user can enter a video player using a keyboard but cannot get back to the original page.

TikTok

TikTok may be one of the most popular video apps of 2020, but it is currently lacking when it comes to accessibility features. Here’s what you can do to make your TikTok content more accessible. Captions: use TikTok’s internal text tool to add captions yourself. Unless you use an external captioning tool, this is a manual process with several steps.

  • Start by opening the application and clicking on the ‘+’ symbol
  • Record a video, or download an existing one from a saved file – then check the box in the lower right corner
  • Click on the ‘Text’ button at the bottom of your screen to add subtitles
  • Preview, then click ‘Done’ in the upper right corner of the screen

Accessible format and design: to ensure people with low vision and color blindness can engage with your TikTok content you should use high contrast text. Insufficient contrast makes content hard to read for everyone – regardless of disability. When including text in a video use an accessible color combination, such as a white highlighter effect with black font. Improve readability by opting for a sans serif font style.

Keep emoji marketing to a minimum

Without a doubt, emojis are pervasive in our online communication, particularly on social media. But as major brands begin using emojis as the sole form of communication, it becomes a major accessibility barrier. For people using assistive technology like screen readers or iPhone’s VoiceOver feature, for example, an emoji is either read out loud as a description (Smiling face with smiling eyes) or worse, it is treated as an image with no alt text. Not only does communication quickly get muddled by emojis, but it is also more time-consuming to get through the long, cumbersome descriptions. All of this is not to say that emojis should be eliminated from your marketing. But it is best to be conscious about how you’re using them.

  • Use Emojipedia to check the assigned meaning for each emoji
  • Use emojis selectively throughout your text
  • Avoid placing multiple emojis in a row
  • Avoid placing your CTAs after an emoji
  • Avoid emoticons created from text