Accessibility Innovation in Media and Creative Arts

FOCUS AREA TWO
Accessibility in Apps and Social Media (Part Two)

Over 2 billion images a day are shared on Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp alone (Facebook Newsroom, 2016).

Social media platforms raise some access issues for people with disabilities. Accessibility on social media sites can be limited but there are features that will help make posts more inclusive (Accessible U, n.d.)

Here are some developing practices for making your social media more accessible:

Twitter logo

Image: Twitter logo

Twitter

To access accessibility features, navigate to Settings and privacy > Accessibility. There are a number of features here including:

You can set the voice over pronounce # as “hashtag”, include usernames in timelines and read shortening URL’s.

Increasing colour contrast improves legibility by increasing the colour contrast between the text and the background colours.

Composing image descriptions makes image content accessible to people who are blind or have low vision. Adding a description is especially important when the picture you tweeted is an image of text.

  1. Click on your profile icon and select Settings and privacy from the dropdown (or press the “g” key quickly, followed by the “s” key).
  2. Click Accessibilityopen new window from the list of settings.
  3. Find the Compose image descriptions checkbox.
  4. Check the box to turn the setting on or off.
  5. Click Save changes

How to add image descriptions in Tweets from twitter.com:

  1. Click on the Tweet compose button, or press the “n” key to use the keyboard shortcut.
  2. Attach your photo(s).
Note: For detailed instructions about adding photos to your Tweets, read this articleopen new window.
  3. To insert descriptive text, open the thumbnail preview dialog by clicking on the thumbnail. (If you are using the keyboard, focus the thumbnail using the “tab” key and press the “enter” key to open the thumbnail preview dialog).
  4. Type your description of the image and click the Apply button. To edit the description, re-open the thumbnail preview dialog prior to posting the Tweet. (The limit is 420 characters.)
  5. You can add a description to each image in a Tweet.

    Note: Image descriptions cannot be added to GIFs or videos.

https://help.twitter.com/en/using-twitter/picture-descriptionsopen new window

If you have a hyperlink in your tweet, indicate what type of resource it leads to by adding [PIC], [VIDEO] or [AUDIO], so screen reader users can anticipate what they will find when they follow the link. 

Put mentions and hashtags at the end of the tweet to avoid confusion for screen reader users. It is difficult to understand what is being said when there are hashtags (#) and at signs (@) in the middle of sentences.

Capitalize the first letter of each word in a hashtag (#MakingAccessibleMedia rather than #makingaccessiblemedia) so a screenreader will know when words begin and end.

- Adapted from Twitter.com and Accessible U

Facebook logo

Image: Facebook logo

Facebook

Facebook adds automatic alt text to images but it only gives very general information. You can edit the alt text for screenreaders. You can also add descriptive text when you post every photo or image. This will enhance the meaning of the image for everyone and a screenreader can read the description.

You can only edit alt text on a computer.

In Facebook, automatic alt text uses object recognition technology to provide a visual description of a photo for people who are blind or have low vision. You can replace this text to provide a better description of a photo, keeping in mind that this description will only be read if someone is using a screen reader to access Facebook.

To see and edit alt text for a photo before you post it:

  1. Click Photo/Video at the top of your News Feed.
  2. Select the photo you want to add.
  3. Click Edit Photo, then click Alt Text.
  4. The automatically generated text will be shown on the left side of your photo. Click Override generated alt text to edit it.
  5. Write your alt text in the box. To change back to the automatically generated text, click Clear.
  6. To save your alt text, click Save in the bottom right.

To change the alt text of a photo after you've posted it:

  1. Click the photo to open it.
  2. Click Options in the bottom right and select Change Alt Text.
  3. Click Override generated alt text or change the alt text in the text box. You can also click Clear to change your edited alt text back to the automatically generated text.
  4. Click Save.

- Adapted from Facebook Help

Facebook updates its accessibility features and new and updated information can be found here: Accessibility for People with Disabilitiesopen new window (Facebook, 2017).

Instagram logo

Image: Instagram logo

Instagram

Instagram made two recent improvements to make it easier for people who use screen readers.

First, Instagram has introduced automatic alternative text, so you can hear descriptions of photos through a screen reader when you use Feed, Explore and Profile. This feature uses object recognition technology to generate a description of photos for screen readers, so you can hear a list of items that photos may contain as you browse the app.

Instagram has also introduced custom alternative text so you can add a richer description of your photos when you upload a photo. People using screen readers will be able to hear this description.

For accessibility, only use hashtags at the end of your caption or in a comment on your post. It can be distracting for VoiceOver users to hear hashtags in the middle of sentences. Instagram videos are up to one-minute long but you cannot caption these videos. You can, however, use the caption area to include quotes and context for the video. It is also important to note here if the video is silent or has sound.

Automatic alt text uses object recognition technology to provide a visual description of photos for people with visual impairments. You can replace this text to provide a better description of a photo. Keep in mind that this description will only be read if someone is using a screen reader to access Instagram.

To see and edit alt text for a photo before you post it on Instagram:

  1. Start by taking a photo or uploading an existing photo to Instagram.
  2. Choose a filter and edit the image, then tap Next.
  3. Tap Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Tap Alt Text.
  5. Write your alt text in the box and tap Done.

To change the alt text of a photo after you've already posted it on Instagram:

  1. Go to the photo and tap3 horizontal dots(iPhone) or 3 vertical dots(Android).
  2. Tap Add Alt Text in the bottom right.
  3. Write the alt text in the box and tap Done.

- Adapted from Instagram, November 28, 2018

Snapchat logo

Image: Snapchat logo

Snapchat

Snapchat has limited accessibility features, but there are things you can do to promote accessibility in your posts. Make sure your Snap Stories make sense from beginning to end. Storyboard and plan out your snaps to make sure the story is coherent. 

The only way to make your snap story videos completely accessible is to upload them to YouTube and caption them there.

For everyday chats, use the largest possible text size and make sure that the text is legible against your background image. The default text is a smaller white font with a black line behind the text which may be hard to read for people with low vision. The larger text option is located in the top right corner of screen after you type out your caption. The button is shaped like a “T” for text. There is also an option to change the color of your text appears in the top right corner of the screen after you type your text.

- Adapted from Accessible U