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Accessibility in Social Media

When sharing information, it’s important to consider all audiences, including those with diverse visual, auditory, mobility, and cognitive needs.

Social media platforms often have built-in tools to help make your media more accessible. These include:

  • Alt Text: Written descriptions of visual images

  • Closed Captioning: Text that can be displayed over video to describe audible words and sounds

  • Open Captioning: Similar to closed captioning, but the text is written into the video itself and cannot be disabled

Look for these tools when posting on social media. They aren’t quite as visible as standard posting options. Here’s where you can find them on various platforms:

Image shows the Facebook alt text interface.
Example of alt text interface (at Facebook).

Beyond using the built-in accessibility tools, there are a few practices you can follow to help diverse audiences access your content:

Use photos for photos, text for text

Avoid using images that contain text, and instead post a photo and use the text description to share necessary information. Many people like to create flyers for events to post in offices, on bulletin boards, or other public spaces, which are great for spreading the word in-person, but not so helpful for social media. Not only does using photos make the information more accessible, photos are often more engaging and get more likes and shares on social media.

Two images that present two different concepts; a flyer and a social media post.
Contrast between a flyer (left) and social media post (right).

Capitalize Hashtags

If a hashtag you are using contains multiple words, capitalize the first letter of each word. This helps screen readers and users understand the individual words instead of interpreting it as a long, jumbled word.

Place text in images over simple backgrounds.

  • Avoid busy textures.

  • Plain colors work best.

Use high contrast for text.

  • Check color with a contrast checker (search for "color contrast checker" online and you will find several free options.)

Be vigilant about accessibility

Being inclusive in your social media is an ongoing practice that requires constant attention and care. Regularly check your media to ensure these tasks are being carried out, and make them part of your routine. All people deserve to know about your work and activities, so make the extra effort to keep in mind those with varied needs.

Written by: Jeffrey Buras, Social Media Specialist


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