Accessibility for social media
Our Limit Less campaign is focused on ensuring that the physics community is more diverse and inclusive and there is a role for us all to play in making this a reality.
Here are some easy to implement tips to help ensure your social media is accessible to a wide range of people. We have also included a list of sites that expand on accessibility at the end of this guide.
- Start with accessibility and assistive technology in mind - it is much easier to produce accessible content if you are mindful of this by design – and right from the start - rather than retrospectively trying to make content accessible.
- Avoid symbol fonts or fancy text characters (like this 𝔢𝔵𝔞𝔪𝔭𝔩𝔢). They are commonly found in people's profiles or in tweets but are scientific symbols that mimic unusual text and therefore are skipped by assistive technologies. So, as a rule, unless the platform you are using gives built in options to change the font, avoid using or copying and pasting symbol or stylised fonts from other sites.
- Use emojis sparingly. Text-to-speech software reads all elements of a post – including emojis - so take this into account when using them.
- Use 'camel case' in hashtags. This means capitalising the first letter of each word #JustLikeThis. In general, it is easier to read as you can see what the words are, but also assistive technologies, such as a a screen reader, will give the natural pauses between the words.
- Add image descriptions. Descriptive text is what text-to-speech or text-to-braille software will read to describe images on social media. It helps paint a mental picture of the image you posted. A short description is fine – you’ll find some examples here.
- Most platforms will have an accessibility settings tab when posting, where you can enter your alt text. You can also simply type it at the end of your caption.
- Although platforms are getting better at generating alt text, captions and transcripts automatically, these can often be incorrect or incomplete so it’s always worth checking.
- Think about infographics - text as image can be difficult to read for some users. If you are using images of text, ensure there is sufficient contrast between the text and the background. Make sure you have sufficient contrast between the adjacent colours.
- Offer transcripts, subtitles or closed captions (more on the different uses here). Captions are essential for people who are deaf to be able to watch your videos. They’re also helpful to people with learning disabilities and sensory processing disorders.
Many in-app video editors allow you to add text to videos or download additional apps (search “closed captions” on Google Play store or Apple).
As well as making your video content more accessible, it will also be engaging to those using their mobile with the sound turned off – (an estimated 80% of users!).
It is also worth considering whether it is appropriate to provide transcripts in another language – for example Welsh if you are looking at reaching a school-based audience in Wales.