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How to Enhance Social Media Accessibility for All Users

Jamie Landry
January 24, 2024
Last Updated On
social media accessibility blog header

Social media is a powerful tool for connection and should be accessible to everyone. Social platforms are used to gather news, discover trends and meet others, and inaccessible content and social platforms risk alienating different demographics. Accessibility is something that social media platforms themselves are taking note of, with features like alt text and closed captioning widely available. Often, the respective algorithms of these platforms will also prioritize accessible content, meaning creating content that diverse groups can better enjoy is a win-win for creators and audiences. 

This blog examines: 

  • What accessibility means in social media. 
  • Why accessibility matters.
  • Social media accessibility best practices. 

What Does Accessibility Mean In Social Media? 

Social media accessibility refers to making social media content and platforms usable and easy to navigate for people with a wide range of abilities, including those with disabilities. Social media accessibility aims to make sure everyone, regardless of cognitive or physical limitations, can access the same content on social media with limited barriers.

Why Accessibility Matters

Accessibility on social media is important as it democratizes online content for most groups of people. How would you use Google Maps if you had impaired vision? Would it be easy to navigate an intricate website with shaky hands? Many factors impede the ability to use social media — accessibility aims to ensure everyone can leverage the same social media tools, information and entertainment on social media with as few barriers as possible. Aside from making your content easier to access for a range of users, accessibility also has practical benefits for social teams. These benefits include bringing your content in front of more users, making

Social Media Accessibility Best Practices

Once you start exploring accessible social media, it can seem like a big undertaking. Understanding how to make your social content more accessible and what to prioritize will help make accessibility second nature within your content creation process. Here are the best practices creators should take to make their content more accessible:

Add Alt Text

Alt text is one of the most-known accessibility features. While it was originally found mostly on images on the internet outside of social platforms, websites like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn make it easy to add alt text to images. Screen readers use the information found in Alt texts to describe what’s happening in an image for users who might be visually impaired. Alt text is vital to add context to social posts, blogs and tutorials where images are vital to your content’s narrative. Social teams can add alt text Twitter and Facebook posts in Dash Hudson using the Scheduler tool.

how to add alt text when uploading posts in dash hudson in scheduler

Create Accessible Text

Another easy way to boost your social content’s accessibility is to write accessible text in your profiles, captions and advertisements. But what exactly is accessible text if users can access a screen reader? While screen readers are a great tool for everyone to access online text, things like cursive or similarly ‘fancy’ fonts are difficult for screen readers to comprehend and can even be challenging for users who simply don’t have great eyesight.

Another common challenge for screen readers is the use of asterisks. Asterisks are often used when quoting profanity or for style, but social teams focused on accessibility should try to limit their use within copy as much as possible. A second important consideration is hashtags — screen readers can’t differentiate different words in a sentence when written in all lowercase. Teams should use the Pascal Case (capitalizing the first letter of each word) when writing hashtags that contain more than one word. 

In general, marketing teams should also be mindful of using gender-inclusive language and avoiding ableist language.

victoria beckham with curlers in hair getting hair done ig reels screenshot
Image credit: @victoriabeckham and @victoriabeckhambeauty

This example, from Victoria Beckham Beauty (@victoriabeckham and @victoriabeckhambeauty) limits their emoji use and writes a caption that describes what’s happening in the Reel — when read out loud, it makes sense and is easy to understand. 

Add Video Captions 

Video captions make content accessible to a wider audience, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Video caption benefits are accessible in different ways too, benefiting viewers in sound-sensitive environments, like offices or public transportation, where audio often can't be played. Captions can also enhance comprehension for non-native speakers by providing written context to the spoken content. By incorporating captions, brands and creators can ensure their message is accessible to as many users as possible.

woman meditating behind text that says '20-minute meditation to fall asleep'
Image credit: @POPSUGARFitness

Produce Accessible Visuals 

In addition to accessible visuals, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with accessible visual best practices, too. Accessible visuals include not using overly contrasting colors and sticking to a 4.5:1 ratio. It’s also important to avoid flashing images or excessive text, as this can impede the viewer’s ability to understand your content and limit the number of users who can easily access it.  

In this example from MECCA, they use product close-ups to avoid too many contrasting colors in the frame while making the image easy to view for a range of eyesight. 

isle of paradise tanner bottle close up tiktok screenshot from mecca beauty
Image credit: @meccabeauty

Limit Memes and Emojis 

It’s also important to consider how memes and emojis might affect specific audiences. While fun and expressive, they can also be a barrier for people using screen readers. These tools often struggle to accurately convey the context or emotion behind a meme or emoji, which can lead the user to confuse or misinterpret your content. For example, a screen reader might simply read out the emoji's name or skip it entirely, missing the nuance it adds to the message. Similarly, memes often rely on visual elements and text that can’t always be described, leaving those with visual impairments out of the joke. 

In this example from Hulu, they share a clip from the movie Godzilla vs. Kong to pique user’s interest and encourage them to watch. Their caption does not use emojis and uses Pascal Case in their hashtags for clear reading and comprehension.

tiktok screenshot of godzilla and king kong movie tiktok screenshot
Image credit: @hulu

Weave Accessibility Best Practices Into Your Brand Guidelines 

Incorporating accessibility best practices into your brand guidelines is more than just a thoughtful gesture — ensuring your content is genuinely inclusive is crucial. Weaving accessibility into your brand’s social media guidelines makes your content approachable and enjoyable for all audiences. This way, you hit the mark with your content and set a standard that speaks volumes about your brand's commitment to inclusivity. It's a win-win — your content reaches a broader audience, and your brand gets a gold star for being considerate and forward-thinking.

How Dash Hudson Enhances Brand Accessibility

Brands looking to enhance accessibility on social media can significantly benefit from Dash Hudson's suite of tools. With features like Social Listening, brands can tap into the latest social media trends and conversations, ensuring their content is relevant and resonate with diverse audiences. This tool helps in understanding the needs and preferences of all segments of their audience, including those with accessibility requirements.

Dash Hudson's insights for Instagram, Facebook and X are invaluable for crafting accessible content. Dash Hudson allows users to add alt text directly to Facebook, Instagram and X posts, enhancing the experience for visually impaired users who rely on screen readers. By leveraging these tools and insights into performance, brands can create more inclusive content and ensure everyone in their community hears and feels their messages.

FAQs

How can social media be more accessible?

To make social media more accessible, it's essential to incorporate features like alternative text for images, video captions and transcripts for audio content. These adjustments ensure that people with visual or hearing impairments can fully engage with the content. Additionally, using clear, simple language and avoiding the overuse of emojis and memes can make posts more understandable for those with cognitive disabilities or those using screen readers. Implementing these practices makes social media platforms a more inclusive digital environment where everyone has equal access to information and interaction.

What are the four aspects of accessibility? 

The four aspects of accessibility are perceptibility, operability, simplicity and robustness, which mean: 

  • Perceptibility ensures that users can perceive the content, including providing alternative text for images and video captions for those with visual or hearing impairments. 
  • Operability focuses on making interfaces navigable and usable for everyone, including those with motor disabilities, with a focus on keyboard accessibility and clear navigation. 
  • Simplicity involves designing content and interfaces that are easy to understand and use while catering to users with cognitive limitations.
  • Robustness refers to creating content that can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of users and tools, like assistive technologies, to make sure content is consistently accessible across different social media sites and devices. 

These factors are the cornerstone of creating inclusive and accessible digital content.

What is the most accessible social media? 

Determining the most accessible social media platform can be difficult as it’s mostly subjective since it largely depends on the specific needs of users. However, Twitter formerly known as X, is often lauded for its accessibility features. It offers a range of options like alternative text for images, screen reader support and the ability to control animated GIFs, which makes it more user-friendly for people with visual or hearing impairments. X’s straightforward interface and text-based format make it easy to navigate and use for many users, including those with cognitive or motor impairments. However, it's important to note that social media is constantly changing, and other platforms are also making significant strides in improving accessibility.

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