Accessibility on Social Media
Why is accessibility on social media important?
Audiences on the Internet are extremely diverse, and as an educational facility and organization involved with outreach and communication, accessibility helps to make our content more inclusive and breaks barriers that are encountered when measures aren't taken to otherwise break those those barriers down.
Accessibility is the practice of breaking barriers down for people so they can better understand our messages, information, and content.
Do's and Don'ts for making social media posts accessible
Want to make your content accessible to a larger audience, but don't know where to start? Below are some things you can do to help make your social media information as accessible as possible.
- Write in plain language. Avoid using complicated jargon when speaking to the public.
- Use inclusive language. To learn more about inclusive language, read 18F's style guide for inclusive language.
- Limit your paragraph length. Large chunks of text can be extremely difficult to understand or hold readers' attention. Writing 1–3 sentence long paragraphs can help readers get to the end of a paragraph easier.
- Use camel case for hashtags. When multi-word hashtags are #writtenlikethis (all one word, all lowercase), screen
readers will read them as one combined word, and depending on what those words are,
your hashtag could be read entirely differently than you meant for it to be. Also,
it can create confusion for the reader. You should instead write your #HashtagsLikeThis
(capitalizing the first letter of each word) for better readability.
- Example: #arkansasgardening vs. #ArkansasGardening
- Use alternative text (alt text) to describe images and GIFs.
- Caption your videos.
- Overuse CAPS Lock. Screen readers read all caps differently than they were sometimes intended to be read.
- Say things like, "click here." Users reading with screen readers don't know where to click when they are instructed to click "here." Instead, say "Visit the resources on our website," for example.
- Overuse emojis and emoticons. Not only can a lot of emojis and emoticons be a "turn off" to some readers, screen readers read them as the alternative text associated with them, which can cause confusion for those users.
- Use initials; spell it all out. Similar to the tip on writing in plain language, when we are writing to the public, our readers may not know what certain initials mean. We can cut down on misunderstanding, confusion, and general lack of connection with our readers by spelling out initials.
- Use special characters just for "style." It is possible to download keyboards that give you access to special characters that change font to a different style. These keyboards can be neat and allow your text to stand out from the typical font you see on social media platforms. However, screen readers don't actually read these characters as they appear, and therefore, we should avoid using these fonts and keyboards for work purposes.
Still Need Help?
Let us know! We are happy to help you make your content, documents, and webpages more accessible.
Madison Ellis, Accessibility Specialist
Amy Cole, Digital Media Program Manager