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6 Tips for accessible social media

At Shipshape we are interested in and care about accessibility within comms. Working in the Disability Arts sector over the years we've learned a huge amount from our amazing and generous friends and colleagues about the importance and the practicalities of good access.

The first thing to say is that good access is good for everyone. This means if you're thinking about how to connect well with audiences, access should be the first thing on your list.

The second is that there are over 13m Disabled people in the UK and they make up around 18% of the working age population, according to the Papworth Trust. This is a huge market, so if the equality argument isn't strong enough for you, the economic one should be.

So, how to make your social media presence more accessible, inclusive and stronger all round?

Here are 6 quick tips for making your social media accessible:

Hopefully you'll already be doing some of these, but if not there's no time like the present!

Capitalise each word in a hashtag

This is called "camel case" by developers and not only does it make your hashtag more readable to the eye, it also makes it legible to screenreader used by Visually Impaired people. It ensures that it is read out as words, rather than a string of letters. Good and easy to do on twitter, instagram - anywhere you use a hashtag.

Avoid too many emojis

Yes of course we all love an emoji. But if you use too many it clutters up your text and makes it very tricky for Visually Impaired readers. For example, that thing where people put a clap emoji between each word to make a point? Imagine listening to that being read out.

Use Alt-text to provide image descriptions

This is the same for any online image use. Luckily social media platforms have caught up now and each allow you to add alt-text to describe your image for Visually Impaired users.

Caption videos – on the vid or in the description

This is a must - whether you're live on Instagram or uploading a pre-made video, make sure there are captions. Not only will that be better for Deaf or Hard of Hearing followers, it is also used by everyone who doesn't put the sound on on their phone.

Verizon have done research which shows people are more likely to watch a video with captions, and watch for longer. 69 % of people view video with sound off in public places and 25 % watch with sound off on private places. So don't skip captions.

Avoid images with text over a photo

Ok, so there's a few reasons for this one.

First, it's often hard to read text over an image - the contrast doesn't always work well enough to make it legible. Second, google can't read that text in your image, so if you're relying on that for your messaging it won't help your SEO. Third, screenreader software can't read out text from an image. So if all you share is a jpeg flyer, you're excluding a bunch of people.

Make sure the text is written out somewhere too, or just avoid using text over images where you can.

Don't go for ALL CAPS

Some small bits of CAPS are ok, but if you do a post where you're shouting all the way through that will make it hard for a lot of people to read.

People who experience learning difficulties such as dyslexia can find lots of block capital letters much harder to read because they change the shape of the letters, which is how we recognise words and read. Use sparingly.

What other tips would you add?

Good luck with it and happy posting!


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