Once you've worked out what you want to post on your social media channels, it's vital that you think about how that content is going to be presented to your audience, particularly those using assistive technologies such as screen readers, and people with visual or other disabilities or processing impairments.
Specifically, if it's an image: is it readable, with plain text to accompany it? Or is all the information you want to communicate contained within a graphic image overlaid with text? The latter is usually not accessible for those with visual impairments and those who may be accessing your content using screen reading devices.
If it's video or audio content: is there readable text available? Or did you upload your video without adding subtitles/captions? Those with hearing impairments may struggle to understand what's going on. Many people also prefer to watch videos with sound off for a variety of reasons. It there are no captions they are likely to switch off from watching your video.
Here are some top tips to make sure your content is as accessible as possible:
Use alternative text or image descriptions
Social media platforms nowadays have made it possible for us to add alternative text (more commonly known as ‘alt text') to describe the images we're posting, so a blind or partially sighted person can understand a summary of what is featured in the image. Please ensure you use the alt text or image description option wherever you see it! And if it's automated for you, ensure you check it's correct before posting.Here is the guidance on how to do so on the major platforms:
Don't break up your content with emojis and hashtags
It may seem tempting to throw in the odd emoji or hashtag amongst your sentences, but this is hugely disruptive for screen reading devices, interrupting the sentence flow. Keep your emojis, hashtags, URLs and tagged accounts to the end of your post and refrain from using too many.
Improve your hashtags
When you are using a hashtag, it's important that you capitalise each word (also known as using CamelCase) so the screen reader knows how to read them properly. For example: #ThisIsChurch and #ChurchOfScotland
Turn on video captions
This is the number one tip for making sure your video content is as accessible as possible: switch on your video captions… and make sure you've checked and edited them! It's very easy to get lazy when it comes to uploading a long video of a webinar or interview, but it's essential you spend time on this to help those with hearing problems understand your content.
These are just some basic ideas for how to make your content more accessible, but there are many more ways to make improvements. To understand more and to keep up to date with emerging features, check the accessibility guidance sections for each major platform:
It is worth remembering that improving accessibility to your content usually benefits everyone irrespective of whether they have any specific challenges accessing content. Disability is also a protected characteristic any of us can join at any point in life.