As a digital influencer, your social media posts will reach a wide range of people. Most likely, these people will be interested in your content in one way or another. Maybe your posts appear in their recommendations because their friends interact with you. Maybe your content is similar to posts they have engaged with before, so it is presented as posts they might be interested in.
Regardless, the users who see your posts will come from many different backgrounds. They vary in age, gender and many other demographics. These users also have different abilities.
According to an article from shondaland.com, more than 285 million people in the world have visual disabilities. And according to the World Health organization, more than 466 million people have hearing impairments.
These users engage differently on social media than those without these kinds of impairments. Someone who cannot see an image on a screen might expect the image to have alternative text which describes its content. A user who cannot hear the audio of a podcast might look for a transcript so they can still understand the content.
In recent years, I have noticed content creators have paid more attention to these needs when it comes to online learning. Online classes can be built entirely around these concepts.
But many digital influencers do not consider the need to make their content accessible. Thankfully, there are several practical solutions when it comes to addressing these issues. Following these guidelines is an essential part of becoming an effective digital influencer.
In November of 2018, Instagram introduced several new features in an effort to make their app more accessible. However, many influencers still don’t know about these features or still don’t use them in their regular posts.
One of these features is the option to add custom alternative text to photos. When creating a new post, this feature appears in the “Advanced Settings” section at the bottom of the screen.
What should alternative text include? Alternative text will be read aloud to people who use screen readers. For this reason, alternative text should accurately describe the content of the photograph(s). According to hubspot.com, the most important rule of alternative text is to “Be descriptive and specific.”
Keep in mind the specifics of your photograph which might seem obvious to you. If the photo captures another person, including their name can help enhance the alternative description.
Hubspot also recommends keeping alternative text to less than 125 characters. And never waste those characters by starting your description with “Image of…” or “Photo of…,” since this is already obvious.
Adding captions to your videos is one way to make your content accessible for those with hearing impairments. Third-party applications exist to ease this process, since there are currently no options for it built into Instagram.
Twitter also provides the option to include alternative text with photos. By turning on the setting called “Compose Image Descriptions,” you will then have this option when posting photos.
The way you format hashtags on Twitter is also important. By capitalizing each new word in a hashtag, screen readers will separate the words and read them like they would in a normal sentence. For example, the hashtag #SunnyDay will be read more clearly than #sunnyday.
These guidelines all apply to those with visual impairments, but hearing impairments should also be considered when creating content. Remember to create transcripts of audio if you create videos. These can be stored on your website and included as a link in the same Tweet as your videos. Third-party apps also exist to create closed-captions for Twitter videos.
Do you use any other social media outlets which provide accessibility features? Inform me in the comments.