Accessibility on social media

Communications and IT leaders in school districts across the U.S. are working to ensure their district websites and online resources meet updated regulations by the American with Disabilities Act — and social media content cannot be ignored. If your employees are using social media to communicate and engage, you must create content that is accessible to people with disabilities.

Here’s a brief rundown of ADA considerations for common social media platforms:

Facebook
We all know that images and videos hold the highest potential for engagement, but this content must meet new standards for those with vision disabilities.In 2016 Facebook began describing the content of photos using artificial intelligence, reading the descriptions aloud on accessible devices. The images you share should be easy to describe, and know that the screen reader likely will not pick up on text in your image. If you’re using an image you created that says SNOW DAY!, make sure “snow day” is also included in the text of your post.

All videos now require captions to be accessible. (But this is great for overall engagement, as the majority of Facebook videos are viewed, at least in part, with the volume muted!). As a page administrator, Facebook provides you a convenient captioning tool that can be used when you upload native video; it can also be used to add and edit captions to any videos you may have posted in the past.

Check out the Facebook accessibility page.

Twitter
Users can add alt text to images, allowing for greater accessibility. Simply enable this feature in the Settings menu of your account. Whether on mobile or desktop, click on General > Display and Sound > Accessibility > Compose Image Descriptions, and you’ll have the ability to add a description any time you prepare to tweet an image.

YouTube
With speech recognition technology, YouTube can automatically create captions for videos. The quality of the captions varies, so always check for accuracy and edit any mistakes directly in YouTube.

Instagram
There is no reader available in Instagram, nor are there alt text options. Simply ensure that every photo or video you post includes a meaningful caption, and you’re good to go.

While it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the changes these updated standards require,  remember that accessibility improvements take time. After all, it was many months after the ADA passed in 1990 before someone in a wheelchair could count on an accessible restroom in public buildings.

But also remember that the work underway isn’t just about compliance — it’s about engaging all people better on social media.

 

Special thanks to NSPRA member Steve King for sharing this information and additional details (including Snapchat resources) in a recent blog post.

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