Social Media Accessibility Guide

Accessibility Features

Links to accessibility features by platform:

Facebook
Instagram
Twitter (X)
LinkedIn
TikTok

 

Alt Text

In order to make social media posts more accessible for people using screen readers, remember to include alt text for images. Alt text is a description of what is happening in photos or graphics. Alt text should provide context while being concise, detailed, and specific.

Additionally, on platforms with large character limits like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, you can add an image description to your post copy or first comment/reply. This is not only easy for screen readers, but also informs those not using screen readers that you are tailoring content for accessibility. Image descriptions can be more detailed to better illustrate what’s happening in an image.

 

Facebook (desktop)

To see and edit alt text for a photo before you post it:

  1. Click Photo/Video at the top of your Feed.
  2. Select the photo you want to add.
  3. Hover over the photo and click the pencil icon/Edit (on mobile, the Edit Alt Text can be found behind the three dots button in the top right corner of your post).
  4. The automatically generated text will be shown on the left side of your photo. Click Override generated alt text to edit it.
  5. Write your alt text in the box. To change back to the automatically generated text, click Clear.
  6. To save your alt text, click Save in the bottom left.

To change the alt text of a photo after you’ve posted it:

  1. Click the photo to open it.
  2. Click the three dots in the top right and select Change Alt Text.
  3. Click Override generated alt text or change the alt text in the text box. You can also click Clear to change your edited alt text back to the automatically generated text.
  4. Click Save.

 

Instagram (mobile)

To add alt text before you post:

  1. Tap Advanced Settings on the final screen before you post.
  2. Scroll to Accessibility and click Write Alt Text.
  3. Add your alt text for each image, then click Done.

On desktop, the Accessibility drop-down appears on the final publishing screen, just below the caption section.

To change alt text after you’ve posted:

  1. Click the three dots in the upper right corner of your post and select Edit.
  2. In the lower right corner of the image, select Edit Alt Text.

On desktop, click the three dots in the upper right corner of your post, select Edit, and open the Accessibility drop-down.

 

Creator Studio/Meta Business Suite

After you’ve selected your image, click the pencil button, and select Alt Text to add your description.

 

LinkedIn

Once you’ve uploaded your image, select Alt. text in the Edit your photo pop-up. Be mindful that LinkedIn only allows 300 characters for alt text.

 

Twitter (X)

Alt text must be added prior to tweeting using Add Description or +ALT on both the desktop and mobile versions of the platform.

* Be mindful when sharing links on Twitter (X). Headlines are no longer visible, meaning users will only see the linked destination’s share image. It’s helpful to make sure your post copy is detailed enough so users will understand where you are linking.

 

Check if your alt text and image descriptions are working:

iPhone/iPad: Settings > Accessibility to turn on Voiceover
Android: Settings > Accessibility, tap Talkback
Windows 10: Windows logo key + Ctrl + Enter to turn on or off Narrator
Mac: Command F5 to turn on or off Voiceover

 

Formatting

Camel Case or Pascal Case ensures multi-word hashtags are readable by assistive technology. Simply put, each word in hashtags containing multiple words should be capitalized. For example, hashtags should read #TheBigShare or #DonateToday rather than #thebigshare or #donatetoday. Whenever possible, hashtags should be put at the end of posts and tweets for smoother reading. Lists of hashtags should always be put in the first comment instead of the caption area.

Refrain from using tabs or spaces to format copy on social media. Because screen readers read from left to right, this will unnecessarily make your copy nonsensical.

Use emojis, not emoticons. Emojis can be read by screen readers. Emoticons, such as a colon followed by a parenthesis, will be read as a series of punctuation marks. It’s best to use emojis at the end of your written content to avoid interruptions in your copy, and it’s preferred to use them in moderation.

Alternative characters for stylizing copy to appear in different weights and fonts should not be used.

 

Captions

YouTube makes creating closed captions easy. Some platforms now have auto-captioning features, but they usually aren’t very accurate. These can often be edited, but in some cases only prior to posting (Twitter). This is why it’s best to create a captions file through YouTube or use open captions, which are burned into the video and always visible (more on these options below).

To caption a video using YouTube:

  1. Upload it to your channel as unlisted to work on your video privately.
  2. YouTube will generate auto-captions for your video. This process can take a few minutes, depending on the length of the video.
  3. You can check the status of the auto-captions in the Subtitles panel in YouTube Studio. You’ll know when the auto-captions are done because you’ll see the option to Duplicate and Edit
  4. Use the Duplicate and Edit options to revise the auto-captions as needed. Punctuation, capitalization, and proper nouns often need editing. Remember, it’s never perfect and ready for use until you’ve reviewed it.
  5. After you’ve finished editing the auto-captions, click the Publish button in the upper right of the window.
  6. Delete the auto-captions for the video so only your edited captions remain.
  7. YouTube will now process and sync your captions. This process can take a few minutes, depending on the length of the video.
  8. Once YouTube has finished processing your captions, switch the status of your video to public (if you want it to be public).

You can download captions files (the SRT file type is most widely accepted) to upload to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

To download captions from YouTube:

  1. Navigate to the Subtitles tab along the left side of the screen.
  2. Click the dropdown arrow next to the hyperlinked number under the Languages
  3. Hover over the row for the language you want to download and a vertical line of three dots should appear next to Edit under the Subtitles
  4. Click the three dots and choose Download.
  5. Once you’ve clicked Download, you can choose one of three file types: VTT, SRT, or SBV.

There are a variety of apps that can be used to create open captions such as AutoCap, MixCaptions, Clipomatic, Clips, and more. These apps are all relatively easy to use and inexpensive.