Your Guide To Creating Accessible Posts On Instagram
Instagram can be a wonderful place filled with fond families and comradery. It’s no secret that Instagram is a visual social media platform. Not all Instagram users can access and enjoy what the platform has to offer in the same way. While it’s easier to assume that people with visual impairments aren’t on the very visual platform at all, this is most definitely not the case. They do use Instagram, only, they’re not able to enjoy it as much because of the lack of accessible content and disability friendly accounts on the platform. This is not necessarily because people don’t want to make their content accessible, but rather because they simply might not know how.
Why Should You Make Your Account more Accessible?
Having an accessible Instagram account can serve more than one purpose. Other than being disability friendly, your account’s accessibility can improve your engagement while also strengthening the sense of community on your profile. Making content accessible is not as hard as people might imagine. There are simple ways you can make your Instagram posts accessible that doesn’t require you to put in much additional time or effort. Not only does it make your profile a more pleasing environment to be in, but it also makes your content available to a wider range of people.
Accessibility is not just a physical concept like climbing stairs or entering a building. Accessibility also comes into play in the digital atmosphere – especially when it concerns people with hearing or visual impairments. Accessibility plays an important role in making the differently-abled of the world feel more included. In today’s social and digital climate, it’s important that we take everyone into account when building a brand or business. Some people are left behind because they don’t have access to content in the same way as able-bodied individuals. Say no to this happening on your own Instagram page by getting ahead of the problem and being the change you want to see in the world.
Instagram is completely visual. This makes it difficult to navigate as a visually impaired person. As a business, you can make some simple changes to make your content more accessible and inclusive on Instagram. These changes will cost you nothing. Here are a few ways you can make your Instagram account more accessible so that more people get to enjoy, experience, and engage with your content.
1. Add Subtitles to Instagram Videos and Stories
Digiday reports that 85% of the videos on Facebook are watched without sound. Subtitles are great for people who choose to enjoy their videos without sound. But that’s not all they’re great for. They’re also essential when it comes to being more accessible to people with hearing difficulties. Not being able to hear content may make the hard-of-hearing feel less included and ignored. As such, subtitles can play a major role in accessibility on social media – especially for video and audio content.
Instagram is also doing a lot in terms of accessibility. The social media platform has released an accessibility feature that automatically adds captions to IGTV videos. The feature is available in 16 languages. You can now also caption your stories easily using the Threads app by Instagram. Threads is an app pioneered by Instagram that lets you keep up with close friends on the platform. It also comes with a helpful automated captioning tool that auto-generates captions on any recorded footage. You could also alternatively turn to third-party apps such as CaptionMax or Clipomatic to auto-generate video captions.
2. Embed Photos with Instagram’s Alt-Text
For visually impaired Instagram users, the platform is not an easy one to navigate. Without any descriptors, the visually impaired is entirely left out from experiencing your post. This is precisely why Instagram’s alt-text feature is a game-changer when it comes to making posts more accessible. In the Fall of 2018, Instagram rolled out an update that allowed users to embed their photos with an alternative text. The text would describe the photo out loud, making it more accessible to those using screen readers. This was a revolutionary development from Instagram, making content accessible for a wider group of people. Here’s how you can find the alt-text option on your Instagram.
Before you share a post, on the same page as where you would add captions, you can
- Scroll down to find ‘Advanced Settings’ and click on it to find several options.
- You can find the option to ‘Write Alt-Text’ under the Accessibility header.
- Write a concise description of your post in the text box and click ‘Done’.
The alt-text option doesn’t seem to have a character limit so you can be as descriptive as you please. Keep in mind, however, that the alt-text will be read after your username and before the caption so be concise. You can even go back on an already posted image and add alt-text later on by clicking on ‘Edit’. On the lower right-hand corner of the post, you’ll find the option ‘Add Alt-Text’. This way, you can also make existing posts more accessible.
Instagram does have an option to automatically generate alt-text but this often turns out to be generic and drab, completely leaving the personality of the post out of the description. When you generate your own alt-text, you can provide extra context and add your own flair to the description, further showcasing your brand.
3. Stay Away from Decorative Fonts
Stylized and decorative fonts are a nightmare for screen readers to process. Screen readers look for readability. While a decorative font may add to the aesthetic of your page, it is completely inaccessible to a visually impaired person using a screen reader to be part of the experience. The screen reader will either;
- skip over these stylized words, only sharing what you’ve written in the native font, or
- produce a string of completely illogical sounds.
Essentially, this means that by using decorative fonts, you run the risk of losing all meaning to your post. The screen reader will either completely misinterpret your message, or skip over the whole thing. If accessibility is important for you, best to skip the decorative fonts all together.
4. Capitalize Each Word in a Hashtag
Hashtags are one of the best ways you can drive engagement to your Instagram profile. It plays an important role in discovering a post or profile. Capitalizing each word in an Instagram hashtag makes your post that much more accessible to the blind community. Screen readers can only read your hashtags accurately when they’re correctly capitalized. When you don’t capitalize each word, the screen reader registers the hashtag as one big word and reads it as such.
Similarly, an additional tip to make your hashtags more accessible is to put them in the comments section of your post instead of grouping them with your caption. While this is a controversial tip, it goes a long way to making your Instagram more accessible. If you’re one to fully utilize the 30-hashtag maximum, this tip is especially for you. By adding the hashtags in the comments section instead of the caption, you’re limiting the time the screen reader spends on a single post. Hashtags in the comments section are still picked up by Instagram but not by the screen reader. This way, you give the user a choice of whether they want to read all your hashtags or not.
5. Include Descriptions in Your Captions
Including post descriptions in the captions was a great way for accessibility-minded Instagram users to include the differently-abled before the age of alt-text and auto-generated subtitles. A good way to do this would be to place a description of your post after the caption, with #accessibility preceding the description.
Though you may find this tip futile when you’re also choosing to include alternative text in the option provided by Instagram, it does hold some value. These descriptions are for the many people out there who have difficulty processing information or visual impairments that don’t use a screen reader. The caption allows them to have a written description. Additionally, Instagram doesn’t let you add alt-text for video posts yet. So adding a description of your video post in your caption can also go a long way in making the post accessible for people who do have screen readers.
Instagram can be a wonderful community if it can be accessed and experienced by everyone. Instagram is a great place to find your crowd and explore your niche interests. By making Instagram more accessible, you’re allowing people to more easily find that community for themselves. These small changes can have a large impact on individuals with visual or hearing impairments. These practices cost you nothing and make all the difference in the world for the people that can’t engage with online content in any other way. As a brand, having a more accessible Instagram page can create a more accepting environment and inclusive space for everyone.
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