By Cathleen Cusachs
Designing mobile-friendly websites or social media posts to be accessible is an important part of the process. According to the CDC, one in four U.S. adults live with a disability. This is equivalent to about 61 million people. If messaging is not accessible, its reach is limited. Here are some basic tips to know:
Use alt-text on visuals. Screen-readers use alt-text, or image descriptions, to describe an image to someone with difficulty seeing it. Many social media platforms— like Twitter and Facebook— allow users to add alt-text to their posts. Image descriptions are important in website design, as well. Include all details necessary to understanding the message being communicated. Read more on Sprout Social and the Web Accessibility Initiative.
Add captions to videos. Including open or closed captioning in videos is becoming more commonplace, and there are plenty of apps and websites that can produce them. Always do a read through of any automated captions for mistakes, though. Read more on Sprout Social and the Web Accessibility Initiative.
Be mindful with hashtags and emojis. Screen-readers read these as well. Emojis come out as their name, like “Laugh,” so too many can be frustrating to hear. The names of emojis can be checked here. Hashtags will sound like a jumbled mess if not typed in camelcase, which is when the first letter of every word is capitalized. This will make them visually easier to read, as well. Read more on Sprout Social.
Have strong color contrasts. Struggling to read a graphic or web page is not an ideal user experience. Thankfully, Adobe recently introduced a color contrast checker. Type in any two hex codes, and the tool will calculate their contrast ratio. It will even recommend more accessible choices. Read more at the Web Accessibility Initiative.
Do not use external fonts on social media. Some users enjoy copying and pasting fun fonts into their social media profiles and posts. While it might look cool, it is difficult for accessibility tools to register them as text. Stick with the fonts provided by the platform. Read more on Sprout Social.
Want to learn more? There are plenty of resources out there. Besides those listed above, here are a few:
Inclusive Design Toolkit via the University of Cambridge
The Federal Social Media Accessibility Toolkit via the United States federal government