Creating a beautiful website is not enough in today’s world, to create a successful website, it needs to be optimized, quick, simple, meaningful and accessible to everyone. If you are a responsible business owner and have a website corresponding to your business which is accessible to everyone including people with disabilities, are your obligations complete? Website 508 compliance is something that cannot be ignored if you wish to target as many consumers as possible but what about your other internet handles like social media? Is your social media accessible to everyone as well?
Let us explain why your social media should also comply with Section 508. According to 508 compliance law, all electronic and information technology developed, procured, maintained or used by the federal government be accessible to people with disabilities. Even if your website is private, to reach out to every consumer, making an accessible website is a must but how do your consumers reach till your website? Most business websites are not the first-place people visit online but most people who are active social media users see a business add or post and click on it to visit your business website. This means that making your website accessible to people with disabilities is not enough as if they are unable to access your social feeds, how will they be directed to your website?
Understanding the importance of accessible social media, we have listed a few of the best practices to make your social feeds accessible to everyone.
1. Adding Alternative Text for Image Descriptions.
If you are posting an image on your social media, adding image descriptions so that it could be narrated by the screen reader makes the post accessible to people with disabilities. Facebook has an option to add the alternative text, also twitter also allows to add image descriptions easily. Even Instagram has started enabling users to enter alternative text describing the image manually. These social media platforms also provide auto-generated image descriptions but we would suggest that the best option is for you to manually enter the context of an image added than relying on automated descriptions.
2. Adding Open or Closed Caption to Videos and Podcasts:
If you have been using YouTube, you must be aware that it automatically adds captions for all its videos to make the video meaningful for people with hearing impairments. You should do the same thing while adding a video or a podcast. Social media such as Facebook allows you to enter the subtitles manually or create it automatically. You can choose option but make sure that the subtitles are accurate as sometimes the auto-generated caption may read gibberish.
3. Writing Hashtags in Camel-Case.
Hashtags are usually a combination of many words attached together to highlight trending topics but using all caps letters like #WRITINGHASHTAGS or all small letters like #writinghashtags may confuse the users, especially the ones with comprehension disorders. Instead, if it is written as capitalizing the first letter of every word like #WritingHashtags, it is easier to read and understand by all users.
4. Using Emojis Sparingly.
Screen readers can also read emojis but using repeated emojis can make the screen reader repeat the emojis as well which may sound irritating so minimize its use.
5. Displaying Trigger Warnings.
Adding a TRIGGER WARNING before a content which flashes too much on the screen is necessary for people with seizure disorders. Also, adding such a warning before sensitive contents like assault or violence related content is also must so that people with physical or emotional disorders could skip that part.
Complying to section 508 to make all your online business handle accessible to everyone including disables is not only a good way of boosting your business but it is also a step towards giving people with disabilities a chance to be on the same level with everyone without any discrimination and that is the kind of future we all need to build when it comes to the field of information and technology.