I posted a poll on Twitter asking what type of content my followers are most likely to consume on Instagram Live. One answer that I didn’t anticipate was “None. It’s never captioned.” Whether you’re producing a video, posting an article or blog on your website, or uploading a photo to social media, it is important to keep accessibility in mind.
Include closed captions on all of your videos
Including closed captions in your videos has many benefits:
- It makes your video accessible to the hearing impaired
- It allows people to consume your content with the sound off
- It is helpful for people who may not be fully fluent in your language
If you are thinking “ok, that sounds great…but how do I add closed captions?” or “won’t that take a lot of time or cost money?,” this article reviews the benefits and limitations of various free captioning tools. The option that works best depends on which features you care about as well as your personal preferences.
“There are two processes involved in closed captioning/subtitling that might consume a significant amount of time: turning voice into text and syncing text to match the video.”
Quote pulled from the article “10 Free Tools to Make Your Video Captioning Process Easier!”
How to add closed captions or subtitles on a Facebook video:
- Click Photo/Video at the top of your timeline
- Select your video and click Post
- When Facebook notifies you that your video is ready to view, click at the bottom and select Edit Video
- Scroll down to Upload SRT files in the Captions section and select a .srt file from your computer
- Click Save
For more stats and best practices on captioning videos, check out this fantastic article by Meryl Evans (and follower her on Twitter, @merylkevans)
Include alt text on all of your images
Alt text is a short and accurate description of an image online. If you hear alt text without seeing the image, you should be able to accurately imagine what the image is of.
Including alt text on your images is important for accessibility, allowing the visually impaired to understand your content. It ensures a positive user experience where anyone, regardless of ability, can consume your images.
Alt text is not only helpful for users to know what your content is about, but it also has SEO benefits. Think of alt text as another opportunity to include your target keywords so that your content is more likely to be shown to the people you are trying to reach. On-page keyword usage will help search engines determine your search ranking. It is advantageous for your alt text to not only describe your image, but to include the keywords you’re targeting.
You can add alt text to your Instagram image while you are making the post by clicking on “Advanced Settings” and then “Write Alt Text.” You can also add alt text to an image you’ve already posted by clicking “Edit” and then “Edit Alt Text” in the bottom right of the image.
On LinkedIn, you can add or edit alt-text for images you upload from a desktop computer, by clicking “Add description” at the top right of your image. Unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t support adding or editing alt-text on mobile devices. If you need to make a post from your mobile device, I recommend you go back and add the alt text later when you are on your computer.
When you add an image to a Facebook post, click on “Edit” and then “Alternative text.” Facebook will auto-generate alt text for your image if you don’t supply any, but it is better to write your own.
Make your social media copy accessible
Emojis are fun, but present accessibility challenges. While most users will see the cute icon in your content and keep on reading without disruption, a visually impaired user who consumes content audibly has a very different experience. Example: If you use this ? emoji, a visually impaired user will hear a description like “nerdy face with thick horn-rimmed glasses and buck teeth.” This can be very disruptive to the flow of the content if the emoji is in the middle of your post or if you use emojis as bullet points
The best practice for hashtags is to capitalize the first letter in every word in your hashtag, also known as “camel case.” An example is #SocialMedia rather than #socialmedia. Using camel case helps screen reader software to pronounce each word in the hashtag separately. If you want to use hashtags in your posts, I recommend including them at the end of the copy rather than in the middle of a sentence.
Want to make sure you are following accessibility best practices on social media?
Alexa Heinrich has developed this handy Social Media Accessibility Checklist with basic best practices to help you keep your social media content accessible to users with vision and/or hearing disabilities. I highly recommend you follow her on Twitter (@HashtagHeyAlexa), and she also has a fantastic newsletter to help marketers learn how to make more accessible content.