Companies who want to promote brand awareness and reach out to a larger consumer base must factor in web accessibility guidelines as a key part of their marketing strategy. People with disabilities deserve inclusion in public forums such as the Internet and social media. Creating social media content that is inclusive towards people with disabilities is ethical and makes good business sense as well.
What are some best practices that you can follow in order to make your social media web accessible? Here are some suggestions that can point you in the right direction.
Provide Image Descriptions
According to the National Institutes of Health, some 8 million Americans are expected to suffer from some form of visual impairment by 2050, and another 16.4 million are expected to suffer from correctable refractive errors. These statistics reinforce the fact that alternate image descriptions should be implemented in an inclusive social media marketing strategy.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all have options to employ alt text for picture posts. If your picture itself contains text, be sure to provide the full text in a caption or alternative description.
Think Beyond Color
For those of us without visual impairment, using color to convey an idea or make a point is often second nature. However, a best practice for web accessible social media posts is to think beyond color when trying to communicate a particular message.
For example, a traditional pie chart would contain perhaps half a dozen different colors to accentuate the different sections. However, patterns or textures can also act as differentiating features in such a chart. Labels would also ensure a clear delineation between segments of the image. When a company puts forth effort to think beyond color in such ways, the natural result is a more inclusive social media experience for persons with a disability, such as visual impairment.
Caption Every Video
Millions of people around the world suffering from deafness or some form of hearing disability. To make your social media posts more accessible to them, it is important to provide captions or subtitles for each video or audio clip that is posted. If the social media site in question does not have auto-captioning capabilities, ensure that the video is captioned beforehand. Alternatively, you may decide to post a video with no dialogue.
If your social media posts contain links to other sites, make sure to provide a brief indicator of what each linked site will contain. For example, if you are linking to a video, write “video” in brackets to let users know this (e.g. “[VIDEO] 5 Ways to Save on Shoe Shopping”). Do the same for links to images or audio clips.
Make Hashtags Reader-Friendly
This is a simple but highly effective best practice to implement. Instead of keeping all characters in a hashtag lowercase, make sure to capitalize the first letter of each distinctive word within the hashtag phrase. For example, #cancerfree would be more accessible as #CancerFree.
While it may take some effort to make your social media web accessible, there are many advantages that can result from doing so. More users will be able to benefit from your messages; your company’s reputation for inclusiveness will grow; and your marketing strategy will become more effective.
However, you may not currently have the resources to make your social media web accessible on your own. If that’s the case, reach out to us at MAB Accessibility. Our web accessibility experts can help you make your content more inclusive for persons with a disability, implement web accessible best practices, and reap all the benefits associated with such an initiative.