There is work ongoing in all aspects of our physical lives to make the world more accessible to people who are less able but what about the virtual world? How do we make social media accessible to partially sighted or blind people?
Here we take a look at some of the small and simple changes you can make to ensure your social media content is more accessible.
We can all agree that certain hashtags are easier to read than others. For example, #MakeItEasierToRead is much clearer than #makeiteasiertoread. You might not know that writing hashtags with a capital for each seperate word also makes them easier for screen readers too. A screen reader is a piece of software that allows people who are blind or severly visually impaired to use a computer. The software reads the text on the screen and can also explain icons, images and navigate through websites. You can read more about screen readers here
Screen readers will read out a description of the emojis in a post or message. The software will read out every single emoji. It is still important to use emojis. A study by WordStream shows using an emoji in your Facebook posts can increase shares by 33% and interactions with your post by 57%.
Limit their use though as they can get annoying for people using screen readers. No one wants to listen to "Star, Star, Star, Star, Smiley Face, Star, Star"
Annoying isn't it?!
Adding a description to an image or alternative text is really important to people using screen readers. It allows the words to be read out and helps the person using it build up a mental image of what is on the page. It doesn't need to be an essay either, just something quick that explains what the photo is.
Facebook – Start a new post, add your image, click edit and then enter the alt text
Instagram – Add a new image, choose your filter or edit the settings as usual. Click next and at the bottom there is a section for Advanced Settings. Alternative text is in here.
Twitter – Compose a tweet and add your image. On the image click the +Alt Text button, type your description and click done.
These are just 3 of the simple ways we can help people with sight issue access the wonders of social media. It not only benefits people who have sight problems but it also means alt tags will be displayed in place of an image if an image file cannot be loaded.
It also provides better image context or descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly.
Good news for everyone.