There are subtle but significant changes you can make so everyone gets an accessible and inclusive digital experience – regardless of age, physical abilities and mental wellbeing.
Check your colors and fonts
The Disability Service at Trinity College Dublin recommends using high-contrasting colors and accessible fonts in infographics. Those fonts include sans serifs – eg, Arial, Helvetica or Bahnschrift. They don’t have decorative features, making them clearer to read. You can check to see if an image is inclusive by assessing the image in black and white, or using an online tool such as Color Contrast Checker.
Think about your captions – and use alt-text
Captions, rather than the images themselves, should hold any written copy as this can be read by screen readers (assistive software that turns written or image content into voice content). Most social platforms also allow for alt-text options to create visual descriptions of images. Instagram has recently updated its features to include automatic captioning for video content on Stories and soon on Reels. You can also add text to the bottom of videos if captioning isn’t available in your country or language.
Be intentional with your emojis
Emojis can slow down the experience for visually impaired users. Screen readers or text-to-speech apps read out an assigned description of that particular character: eg, 😎 becomes ‘smiling face with sunglasses’. Using fewer emojis, or placing them at the end of text, can make it easier for those using screen readers.
Long runs of all lower-case text in hashtags can be a problem – that’s according to consultant Adrian Roselli who’s been developing accessible user interfaces for the web since 1993 (!). ‘For non-native speakers of a language, they can be impossible to parse and screen readers just plow through them with poor pronunciation. The best rule of thumb here is to use camel case: capitalize the first letter of each new word. It will be more readable, translatable and better pronounced in screen readers,’ he says. So, #modernbusiness becomes #ModernBusiness.
Trigger warnings or content warnings are an easy way to prepare users for upcoming posts if they touch on a delicate topic or issue. They can be added to the start of a caption or story like so: ‘TW: Covid-19.’
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok all have accessibility pages for further info.
A version of this article was published in the Courier Weekly newsletter. For more useful stories, tips, tricks and simply good advice, sign up here.