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Social Media Accessibility

Close-up of social media icons on a device.

Accessibility is important not only for websites and applications, but also for social media. Some accessibility components are a responsibility of the tool creators, but other accessibility components need to be considered by post authors. For example: captioned videos, described images, good text color contrast – among other things.

Videos – open or closed captions

Proper captions and transcripts are necessary for videos and podcasts. Auto generated captions are not the best accessibility practice. You can use auto generated captions, but only if you clean them up afterwards before sharing your content.

Captions and transcripts are a necessity for millions deaf and hard of hearing people, but they also benefit many other people.

  • YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook: Here’s a video by a deaf accessibility consultant explaining how to create captions and transcripts for videos in YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook.
  • LinkedIn: Here’s a page by LinkedIn explaining how to upload a .SRT file to a video embedded in a LinkedIn post. You can create a .SRT file in your YouTube video profile as explained in the video by a deaf consultant in the paragraph above.
  • Twitter: There’s a possibility to add captions to videos in Twitter by uploading a .SRT file. However, Twitter is not clear about how to add captions to a video that you embed in your tweet. It seems to be limited only to Media Studio creators. For now, there are 2 ways to make videos accessible in Twitter by: 1 – including a link to a video with captions in YouTube, Vimeo or another video platform that supports captions OR 2 – creating open captions by “burning” them in a video by using an app like Cliptomatic (in iOS) or Kapwig (on desktop).
  • Instagram: At this moment, there’s no option to upload a .SRT file to videos in Instagram. Also, you cannot link your posts in Instagram to original videos with captions in other video platforms. So the only way to make videos accessible in Instagram is by creating open captions in Cliptomatic or Kapwig or any other similar software – the same way you do for Twitter.

Generally, it’s best to upload a .SRT caption file to a video in a social media post. A separate caption file is easier for a video creator to change if needed. It shows closed captions that can be turned on or off by a viewer and also can be adjusted in font size, color, weight and option for background color for better color contrast – it depends on a social media tool media options.

However, not all social media tools support a closed captioning feature. In those cases, the alternative options to make a video accessible is to offer open captions by “burning” them in a video and using tools like Cliptmatic or Kapwig.

When possible, also consider offering a text transcript that includes speech, speaker IDs, sound descriptions, and video descriptions – preferably on a HTML page. The transcript does not replace captions, but complements them.

For professional video and audio content, it’s highly advised to hire a professional captioning consultant to help you ensure that captions and transcripts for your aural content are professional and easy to read.

Photos – image descriptions

Proper image descriptions for photos are a necessity for many blind people, but they also benefit others with a limited internet access or images disabled for online view.

You can describe photos 2 ways:

  • Describe a photo in rounded brackets. It can be done in the end of the post below the main text. For example: (ALT: A glass vase with several red flowers.)
  • Describe a photo inside an image – if there’s a feature for that in a social media tool. It’s especially useful for social media platforms like Twitter that limit text to a certain number of characters.

There are social media platforms that offer a feature to describe an image inside an image:

Some social media features offer an automatic alternative description for images. Like with auto captions for videos, automatic ALT description is not a good idea. The best practice would be to describe a photo manually.

Miscellaneous

  • Multi-word hashtags: Write them in camelcase by capitalizing the first letter of each word in a hashtag. For example – #ThisIsCamelCase. It makes it easier for screen users to follow text.
  • Trigger warning: There are people who have seizures. So warn about certain videos that flicker. Or better not post those types of videos.
  • All caps: Don’t overuse caps. They cause both accessibility and user experience issues. Use caps sparingly when necessary.
  • Emoji: Don’t overuse emojis. They frustrate screenreader users. Use emojis sparingly when necessary.
  • Color contrast: When sharing images, make sure that text is easy to read in images and color contrast is good.

The list is not exhaustive. Social media features change and so do accessibility needs.

Do you have more questions about making your social media accessible? Contact me.

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