June’s presentation focused on how to make social media content more accessible to blind and visually impaired individuals.
Hannah Wente and Jim Denham of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired (WCBlind) and Stacy Harbaugh of designCraft Advertising showed attendees how they could “Be the Change” that makes a difference for people to access online content. They shared some eye-opening numbers:
- 100,000 people who are blind or visually impaired live in Wisconsin. That number is expected to double in the next 10 to 20 years as the population ages.
- According to U.S. Census data, 70 percent of the people who are blind and visually impaired throughout the U.S. are unemployed. Transportation issues, hiring discrimination, a lack of assistive technology options in the workplace and other barriers are factors in this statistic.
Despite the barriers that attribute to this high unemployment rate, Hannah noted that blind and visually impaired individuals typically become loyal employees when hired.
Personal Impact of Vision Loss
Accessibility matters. Stacy asked Social Media Breakfast Madison (SMBMad) attendees to consider how blind or visually impaired people are accessing their content. Hannah noted that “You, your spouse or a loved one will experience vision change in your lifetime.”
Five Ways to Make Your Social Media Accessible
The good news is increasing content accessibility online for blind and visually impaired people doesn’t have to be difficult. Check out these tips offered by Fashioneyesta:
- Add alt text and/or image descriptions.
- Capitalize the first letter of each word in a hashtag to improve the pronunciation of a voiceover. See the following use of “Camel Case”: #InclusiveActivity vs. #inclusiveactivity
- Add audio descriptions to your videos. Add a script using a tool like Cliptomatic; add captions to Instagram Stories.
- Add descriptive hyperlinks to your content so people know what page they will land on. For example, you would say, “Visit the council’s website at WCBlind.org/Advocacy to learn about our advocacy efforts.”
- Don’t overuse GIFs – they’re not accessible for people who use a voiceover.
Current technology increases accessibility for individuals with vision loss. Jim, who is blind, gave a live demonstration of how a screen-reader works on his iPhone.
The speakers reviewed features of popular social media platforms and showed how it’s possible to create more inclusive social media content.
Accessible Facebook Posts
For Facebook, Hannah reports that there’s no built-in way to add alt text or image descriptions. However, you can manually add it to the end of each post:
Add “Graphic:” or “Photo:” at the end of your post and then describe what people are doing in the photo, not their appearance. (Check out the SOCIAL MEDIA FOR ALL OF US HANDOUT for more information.)
Build audio descriptions into the script instead of having to add an audio track later.
You can add alt text to each posted image. Go to advanced settings – write alt text. Add in the alt text and go back to the post.
Add alt text to your Tweeted photos. Under Settings, go to Accessibility and enable the Compose Image Description option. A black box will appear under your photos where you can add text that describes who or what is in the photo.
There is an alt text option available when you add a photo on the desktop version (120 character maximum) of LinkedIn. Stacy didn’t believe it was currently available in mobile. This platform offers relevant content by searching for the following hashtags: #blind or #blindness.
Experiment with Change
After seeing how it’s possible to create accessible content, the speakers invited the audience to implement these best practices with an existing or new post. As the speakers stood by, participants added alt text and checked out accessibility settings.
Make it Happen by July 27
Try out new accessibility practices in the weeks ahead. And then get ready to standardize these procedures on Saturday, July 27. This “Pivot Day” is the date of the Disability Pride Fest in Madison.
Stacy encouraged participants to be part of the change in the creation of accessible social media content.
“Social media is trend-driven. People will copy each other. If you start doing it, you’ll set an example for others and they will follow,” she said.
See You at SMBMad in July
Join us next month for Not-So-Sexy Marketing: Exciting Ways to Market a Boring Product or Service Using Social Media with speakers Spencer X Smith, Rachel DeGrand and Leslie Osman.
Leslie Blaize wrote this post on behalf of Winbound, a content marketing firm. Winbound provides an all-in-one content marketing and conversion optimization package specifically designed for small marketing departments.