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6 Tips For Social Media Accessibility

Consider using captions in videos and alt text on images to make your posts more inclusive of people who have hearing loss or vision impairment.

Social media marketing is all about knowing your target audience, crafting content to engage clients and attracting new prospects. And while it’s a good idea to have a laser focus on whom you’re trying to reach – rather than going for the ole “spaghetti on the wall” strategy – it’s also important not to inadvertently alienate and exclude people.

That’s one reason why more and more brands are focusing on accessibility in their social media strategy.

Accessibility is all about reaching people who use assistive technology to access social, whether they’re blind, visually impaired, deaf or have dyslexia or cognitive learning disabilities. In the US, there are more than 2.2 million people considered deaf and roughly 37 million people with some degree of hearing loss, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Around 32.2 million Americans report being blind or having trouble seeing even when wearing corrective lenses, according to a recent National Health Interview Survey.

Making social media posts more accessible is a way to signal respect for all potential audiences, but it can also be a smart business move. For example, adding closed captions to your video content can boost search engine optimization, and multiple studies have shown that captioning makes people more likely to pay attention and remember your video.

Here are six tips for making your social media posts more accessible. (Read full article with examples here)

1. Add closed captions to your video content. Not only does this help people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it could also boost engagement on a video overall. Though several social media sites auto-caption videos now, the quality of the transcription varies, so it’s worth exploring third-party apps and services to add captions. Remember to add context to your captions beyond what’s being said. Describe sounds (like an audience laughing) or music cues if they change the tone or add meaning to the video.

2. Use alt text on images. Alternative text is a short but detailed description of a photo to help people using screen readers understand what’s happening in a picture. Most social media apps allow users to easily add alt text as they’re posting an image or to edit once it’s posted. Don’t forget to add alt text to GIFs as well.

3. Use “CamelCase” in hashtags. CamelCase, where you capitalize the first letter of each word in a hashtag phrase, can be very helpful. First, screen readers will often read uncapitalized hashtags as a string of letters, rather than individual words, which is cumbersome and obscures meaning. Also, people with dyslexia or cognitive disabilities could have trouble decoding hashtags without capital letters marking each word.

4. Don’t overuse emojis. Screen readers describe each emoji in a post. Including too many in a row or peppering clapping hands emojis between each word to show emphasis can make it almost impossible to follow. That doesn’t mean you should avoid them entirely, but be thoughtful when you use them and add a space between each emoji, if your post includes more than one.

5. Avoid custom fonts. Adding bold, italic and other custom fonts to a tweet or post gives it a unique look, but can be a nightmare for people using a screen reader.

6. Maintain color contrast. When you’re creating a graphic for social media, take color contrast into consideration. If there’s not enough contrast, it can be difficult for people with colorblindness to read text or decipher an image.

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