Social media is an important avenue for the dissemination of information by members of the University community. When used to inform or participate in activities which are a part of the University's mission, it is important to take advantage of all available supported accessibility features of the platform being utilized. The follow guidelines are not applicable when reposting or sharing content that is published by students, employees, non-university organizations, or external sources that do not conduct core University-related activites.
Provide live captions for live events and post-production captions for all video
For video content, you should provide captions of the audio for the benefit of those without hearing, who are hard-of-hearing, and who are non-native speakers.
Refer to the Accessible Video and Audio Materials website for more information on captioning. Check the social media platform’s accessibility support features to determine how to include live captioning and which captioning type (closed or open) must be employed for captions to appear when a video plays.
Provide context for animated GIFs
At this time, the animated GIF format has either very limited or no accessibility support on most social media platforms. This makes the animated GIF content difficult for individuals who rely on screen readers to perceive. Therefore, you should not rely solely on animated GIF content in a social media post. When using animated GIFs, confirm that the post can be understood through its text content alone.
Provide alternative text descriptions for images
When social media platforms or aggregation tools such as HootSuite allow for alternative text descriptions on images, you should provide them. For best practices on authoring alternative text descriptions, refer to the alternative text description section of the UVA Digital Accessibility - Creating Accessible Content guidance. Such text descriptions of images will be read aloud to non-sighted or low-sighted users who rely on screen readers to consume social media content.
Hashtags are an important component of social media posts. When authoring hashtags that are made up of multiple words, use initial capitalization, also known as CamelCase. Utilizing this simple technique makes the hashtag easier to read for all users and is more consumable by screen readers since their synthesized voices can recognize and pronounce individual words, and won’t concatenate and garble them.
Emojis and Emoticons
Emojis displayed on a screen will be described by a screen reader. The 👏 emoji, for example, will be read aloud as “clapping hands.” Please be considerate of screen reader users by using emojis judiciously and by placing spaces between them.
When creating emoticons with text, consider the experience for screen reader users. In this example, this visual experience of “shruggie” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ will be read aloud by a screen reader as:
“Macron, backslash, underline, katakana, underline, slash, macron.”
Use both of these conventions sparingly. For examples of screen readers audibly describing emojis and emoticons, refer to Adrian Roselli’s article on Improving Your Tweet Accessibility where he captures the synthesized speech output of these components in social media posts.
Additional information and guidance:
- Making Social Media More Accessible to People with Disabilities (3Play Media)
- Social Media Accessibility Toolkit (Explore Access)
- Federal Social Media Accessibility Toolkit
- Social Media Accessiblity: Turning Off Autoplay (AccessibilityOz)
- Overview of Accessibility Features in Social Media (AccessibilityOz)
- Facebook Accessibility Support Features
- Facebook Accessibility
- Accessibility Toolkit for Facebook Live (Minnesota IT Services)
- Live Captions Requirements - YouTube
- Contribute translated content - YouTube
- YouTube Accessibility: How to Make Accessible Videos with Closed Captions (Medium)
Guidance from Peer Institutions
- Social Media Accessibility Guidelines (Princeton)
- Social Media Accessibility - Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (Queen's College)