Social Media & Accessibility

Social media is integrated into TWU students’ lives. eMarketer (December 19, 2019) found that worldwide, there are 2.95 billion social media users in 2019, and that number is expected to increase. Social media will continue to be an invaluable way to reach students for quick information. “However, this means that the sites hosting the content” published by TWU departments “are held to the same requirements of Section 508” (Sonnenberg, 2020, p. 1).

Plain Language

Use “plain language” in your social media content. Students want the info quickly! Plain Language.gov offers the following checklist for plain language writing:

  • Be concise! Say it in fewer words if you can.
  • Use words that the students would use in a search engine.
  • Don’t assume prior knowledge of your readers.
    • If you are posting a reminder about an event, be sure to share the event info again.
    • Don’t assume that they read your previous posts.
  • Don’t assume that your reader knows what your acronym means. Write out the meaning of the acronym the first time in your post and add the acronym in parentheses afterwards.
    • Disability Services for Students (DSS)

Accessibility Practices for Social Media

Images

Alternative text provides a textual alternative to non-text content in web pages.
All images should have alternative text or an image description.
Alternative text serves several functions:

  • It is read by screen readers in place of images allowing the content and function of the image to be accessible to those with visual or certain cognitive disabilities.
  • It is displayed in place of the image in browsers if the image file is not loaded or when the user has chosen not to view images.
  • It provides a semantic meaning and description to images which can be read by search engines or be used to later determine the content of the image from page context alone.

Write what the image is. You do not have to write a novel, or describe every little detail of the image. Also, consider the context of your post to determine what level of detail should go into the alt tag.

  • Do not write “image of…” because the screen reader will say “image” then the alt tag.
  • Mention color if it’s relevant.
  • Share humor. Descriptive text doesn’t have to be overly formal and should do its best to express what’s funny.
  • Transcribe text. If the image has text that is central to its meaning, make sure you include it in the description.
  • Read it out loud. Alt text is often read by screen readers, so read the alt text aloud to hear how it sounds.
  • For example:
    Oakley, TWU's mascot
    • The alt text used for the image of Oakley could be “Oakley, TWU's mascot” or “Oakley’s Jersey”
    • Keep alt text under 125 characters
  • Add descriptive text along with pictures posted if the social media platform does not have a dedicated alt text field.
  • Alternative text should be used for gifs and memes. When posting a gif, start the alt tag with “GIF: [alt text].”

Videos

  • Videos in your feed and your stories should include captions.
    • You can use the description box to write a transcript of the video, but open captions are preferred.
    • Refer to “Videos & Accessibility” for caption creation information and suggested softwares.
  • Make sure there is good contrast between the background and the captions.
    • Typically, captions will have a faint black shadow box and the text will be white for high contrast.
    • You can check your color contrast with Color Contrast Analyzer (CCA).
  • If there is text in your videos or photos, write out the text in the description.
  • The text should be large and easy to read. We recommend a minimum of 14 pt font for graphics either in a video or in an image.
  • Use sans serif fonts as the serifs can blend together and make the font difficult to read. Styled fonts can be difficult for screen readers to use as well.
  • Limit emoji use where possible.

Posting & Links

  • Use camel case for tags as they can be easier to read.
    • Screen readers will insert a space after each word that is in camel case, making the overall meaning easier to understand.
    • For example, the hashtag "#PioneerProud!" would be read as two words.
  • Place your main content first, then put the hashtags and @mentions at the end of your post.
    • This practice can be important for screen reader users
  • Avoid using decorative fonts in profiles or captions.
    • Stylized fonts are difficult to use with assistive technology like screen readers
      • Punctuation marks are read aloud by screen readers, so hashtags or @ mentions can disrupt the message that you are trying to convey.
      • The screen reader will either be silent or the screen reader output will not make sense if mixed within the post.
      • [VIDEO] Example videos of screen readers reading #Hashtags 
  • Use a URL shortener for hyperlinks.
    • The screen reader will read everything aloud, so shorten the link. It’s easier for sighted people to scan through your content as well.
  • When putting URLs in your tweet, identify the type of media that will be displayed such as [PIC], [VIDEO], or [AUDIO].
  • Be sure that the page or media you are linking to is accessible: it should have alt text for images, captions, etc.

Non-Accessible Link Content

However, if there is no alternative but to direct users to other sites with content that is not accessible, inform them first by including a short note of what to expect. For example:

  • A video does not have captions or descriptive text
  • The video will start automatically
  • There is an audio file, but not a written version

Resources

eMarketer. (December 19, 2019). Number of social network users worldwide from 2010 to 2023 (in billions) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved April 24, 2020.

Sonnenberg, C. (2020). E-Government and Social Media: The Impact on Accessibility. Journal of Disability Policy Studies.

WebAIM. (2019, October 14). Alternative Text.

Page last updated 4:08 PM, June 29, 2020