Social Media Accessibility Guidelines
Social media is at the forefront of most organisations communications strategies as well as being an increasingly prevalent part of everyday life. It is crucial, for this reason to ensure that our social media posts are accessible to the greatest number of people possible. And with almost 16,000 students registered with disability support offices in colleges across Ireland, it’s important your social media is accessible. Plus, by making your media accessible, not only are you being inclusive of people with disabilities, you’re encouraging wider participation with your events, campaigns and elections.
Present all of the necessary information you want included in your posts in as coherent and clear a manner as possible. Avoid adding unnecessary content and try not to assume prior knowledge (for example, the first time you use the phrase SU you should say student union). If you are communicating about an event, include a blurb, but separate out the vital details, such as location, date and time so that they are easy to find at a glance. If you have multiple important points to express, try spreading them across multiple images in a post (each with alt text), or to use multiple posts so important details don’t get lost.
If someone has the carefully comb through your posts to find the time and location for your upcoming event, the likelihood is they will get frustrated, or distracted, and choose not to attend. To avoid losing out on potential engagement with you, it is important to structure your posts in such a way that they are intuitive to most people.
At the end of all of your social media bios you should detail how someone can contact you. When possible, include your official email along with the name of the person who answers or responds to that email. If you have one, also include contact details for the Accessibility Contact (AC) or Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Officer (or your organisation’s equivalent). Some people with accessibility concerns may not be comfortable asking for further information or reasonable accommodations from a general email as they do not know who will see it. Having a trusted, dedicated person to ensure the equality and diversity of the organisation is fostered in how it is run makes more people, especially marginalised people, likely to engage.
Promotional videos for SUs, clubs and societies should all include captioning. Any video posted on your official channels should reflect this expectation. When you are screening movies or videos you must put on subtitles. They are available for all legal means of viewing movies, including renting movies on YouTube if they aren’t available elsewhere.
What do different terms for captioning mean?
Subtitles are provided for all movies and TV series on popular streaming platforms. They are taken from the screenplay script and are most accurate. Anytime you are showing a professional video, you should enable the subtitles for people who are Deaf or have auditory processing issues.
Closed Captions are for live meetings and virtual events. They are available for all viewers, but each viewer has the option to have them on or off. Auto-captioning is available on Zoom, this is closed captioning, meaning you can enable this service by pressing the "CC" button, and turn it off the same way. While auto-captioning is helpful, there can be issues with inaccuracies, most especially if your speakers have strong accents. If it is the case that you know you will have attendees who would benefit from captioning at your event, ideally, you would book a live captioner for superior accuracy.
Open Captions are the least preferred captioning option. Open captions make the captions mandatory viewing for all attendees, unlike in Zoom, you cannot opt out of closed captions. Some people find subtitles opt captions distract them, so if possible it is best to offer them the choice to view without. In a situation where you are screening publicly, such as a movie night, it is important to use subtitles or captions. This is because while some people find them a hinderance or a distraction, others cannot view the movie at all without the audio transcribed.
To create a CamelCase hashtag, please capitalise each word in a phrase. For example, #ThisIsAVeryLongHashtag, not, #thisisaverylonghashtag. Using CamelCase hashtags allows anyone using a screen reader, including blind people, to understand your hashtags.
Emojis can be helpful for conveying the tone of a message, however it is important to consider how using many emojis, especially interspersed in messages may cause your meaning to be lost. It hinders people’s understanding of your message if you use them in the middle of a sentence. Best practice is to use emojis at the end of full sentences. It is also generally best to avoid using the same emojis repeatedly, or having a long string of emojis. For example, if I had a tweet that said “When bae hates cats.” Followed by 46 red flag emojis, some text to speech software will read this as: “When bae hates cats. Red flag emoji, red flag emoji, red flag emoji, red flag . . . “.
When you are posting images on social media, it’s important you add alternative text so that anyone who is using a screen reader, such as blind people, will be able to access the information in the image without being able to see it. Alternative text is a written description of whatever is in the image. Social media sites also allow you to add alt text to your images or GIFs.
In order to add alt. text on Twitter you will see the option to 'add description', on Meta/Facebook you need to click edit and then you will see the alt-text option, on LinkedIn the option comes up to add alt-text. To add alt-text for Instagram click advanced settings and then 'Write alt-text'. The alt-text for each image should be brief, but include all essential information sighted users would get from the images.
High Colour Contrast
All of your posters should be legible and clear, as well as having alternative text. Your poster should use accessible colours – with contrast ratio of 7 or more. This can be checked for free by online colour contrast checkers such as: Coolors Contrast Checker, WebAIM Colour Contrast Checker or Colour and font Contrast Checker) and text of minimum size 12.
Text Formatting and Layout
The text should be a minimum font size of 12 so that people with visual impairments can read the information.
Use easily legible fonts throughout your document. Choose a font such as Calibri or Verdana. These fonts are sans-serif, which means they lack the embellishments on letters that you would find on Times New Roman for example. (If using stylistic fonts, make them larger and remember that function is more vital than artistic flare.)
Avoid italics and underlining – use bold for emphasis. Reading italic or underlined text is more difficult for people with visual impairments, dyslexia and other learning differences.
Avoid all capital letters, SUCH AS THIS, it can be challenging to read. Use bold for emphasis.
Left align the content – do not use justification.