With a few quick fixes and easy steps, your organisation’s social media can be made into a much more accessible, inclusive and successful space. And if you get it right, you’ll reap the rewards of creating accessible social media content. The benefits are as diverse as your audience include:
Demonstrating commitment to best practice
Adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is one of the best ways to show that you are committed to making a space that’s inclusive and diverse.
By showing individuals that they can access your social media content, you’re signposting to them that they will be able to access the rest of your offerings, too; whether that’s physical spaces, online content or paid-for services. We often say “compliance means you don’t get sued; it doesn’t mean you include”. Taking the steps to move beyond compliance is where you’ll see the real rewards, and create a truly inclusive culture. But it’s a great first step!
Making more successful content
The more you adhere to WCAG, the more the various social media algorithms will reward you by boosting your content far and wide!
Often the most accessible practices are the most algorithm-friendly ones, too. For example, creating a written transcript to accompany your podcast doesn’t just mean enabling a whole additional audience to access the content, it also means it’s easily searchable, quotable and shareable!
Reaching a diverse audience
At Diversity and Ability, we always go beyond accessibility to thinking about genuine inclusion. To help you think about why inclusion is so important, reframe the question to focus on who you might be excluding at the moment, and how much this exclusion is costing you.
By creating inclusive content, you’ll be reaching new, captive, excited audiences and expanding your reach.
Keep three key focuses in mind when thinking about how to make your social media content accessible:
Is your writing accessible, enabling and inclusive?
Who are you including in your content and images, and how are you representing them?
Can your content be accessed in diverse ways, rather than relying on just one format?
Models of disability explain how we understand the concept of disablement and the barriers faced by disabled people. Our language and communication has evolved from negative, derogatory blaming towards celebrating and valuing every individual. The following models help you understand the different ways people might talk and think about disability, and how your use of language can help break down disabling barriers.
- Focuses on diagnosis.
- Places blame and responsibility on an individual, suggesting they need to be ‘fixed’ or ‘cured’.
- Professionals see impairments and limitations, focus on diagnosis, and take action based on that (regardless of an individual’s preferences).
- Focuses on barriers; individuals are disabled by the barriers put in place by a society that only welcomes one type of person.
- If we remove the barriers, individuals will be enabled and have access to fully participate and thrive.
Diversity & Ability’s Celebratory Model
- Everyone is valued as unique individuals with their own brilliant skill set.
- Adjustments that are made proactively, rather than waiting for an individual to ask for them, mean everyone is welcomed and enabled.
- Fosters a sense of belonging, making the world a better and brighter place for everyone!
Plain and concise wording
- Speak in a clear and simple way
- Aim for a ‘reading age’ of around 13 years old Keep tone of voice and vocabulary consistent Avoid (or clearly explain) jargon and acronyms
Use language that’s inclusive, enabling, and in line with the social model of disability. For example:
‘Disabled people’ not ‘people with disabilities’
‘Wheelchair users’ not ‘wheelchair-bound’
‘Non-disabled people’ not ‘able-bodied people’
Remove exclusionary vocabulary (for example, ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, ‘dumb’, ‘lame’) and analogies (for example, ‘falling on deaf ears’, ‘crippling debt’, ‘blind leading the blind’)
Present text in an accessible way
- Use #PascalCase or #camelCase for hashtags. This means capitalising the first letter of every word in a hashtag to ensure legibility, for example #AccessibleSocialMedia
- Clearly order and space out your text. When you have character space (for example, on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and in YouTube descriptions) ensure as much space as you can by creating paragraphs.
- Where formatting allows, use bullet points and numbers to create linear content.
- Use bold, not italics or underlining, to emphasise text.
Present audio in an accessible way
- Provide transcripts for audio content like podcasts.
- For live video, ensure automated captioning is enabled as a bare minimum (best practice would be to include live transcription and a BSL interpreter).
- Keep background noises (including music) to a minimum. Avoid dramatic shifts in volume.
Making your visuals accessible
- Avoid images of text whenever possible. When you do use them (for example, on Instagram), make sure all text is also written out in the caption or description.
- Keep content clearly ordered. Ensure high colour contrast.
- Always use image descriptions and alt text.
- Alt text is not visible in a social media post, but vital for ensuring images are accessible to people using screen readers. It’s usually shorter (125 characters or less) and contains the essential details of an image.
- Image descriptions are more detailed and are visible in the captions.
- Order your image descriptions and alt text using the following formula = object, action, and context.
For image descriptions:
- Describe the image content but avoid using words related to sight (for example, don’t say “a tree is visible” or “you can see a man”).
- Describe facial expressions.
- Describe characteristics, if you know them (for example, if you know a person’s gender and race, this is important information to include, but make sure to never assume this information).
Get practised in creating image descriptions and alt text, writing in #camelCase, and using inclusive language!
Follow Diversity & Ability on social media for top tips and up-to-date guidance on inclusive communications. Investigate how to make your website accessible to ensure holistic inclusion across your communications.
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Please attribute as: "How do I ensure that the digital content I create is accessible? (2022) by Diversity & Ability supported by The Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0