Tips for making social media more accessible
Alternative (alt) text is used to convey meaning and provide context in place of an image, graph and other media. Blind and low vision users rely on the alt text attribute to understand the equivalent meaning of images, figures or other graphics in textual form. Alt text should provide a concise description conveying essential information about the image.
- Alt text should be concise and meaningful, yet does not compromise on detail for it to make sense.
- Usually, around one hundred characters or less, like a “tweet”.
- Uses full stops and commas, so it can be read in a more human way by a screen reader.
- Avoids phrases such as "image of…” or “photo of..." or "graphic of…" since a screen reader already indicates this information.
- Consider the context of the surrounding information when writing.
Please note you can only edit alt text on a computer or iOS device.
Change alt text on existing photos
The instructions above are most applicable to desktop. For instructions on Apple devices, Android devices, and screen readers, please visit Twitter's article on How to make images accessible for people., external link
Captions are meant to support people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. They are different from subtitles, which are only meant to translate dialogue for viewers who speak a different language. To learn more about captioning, please visit our page on Captioning & Description.
Screen readers are able to read out unicode emoji graphics, but are unable to read out text based emoticons created by combining elements such as colons, underscores, slashes, etc. You can make your content more accessible by using unicode emojis sparingly and by avoiding text-based emoticons.
Do this: 🙂
Not this: :-) ...or this... 🙂🙂🙂🙂
Camel case hashtags
Capitalizing the first letter of each word is known as camel case. Use camel case on hashtags to help make them more accessible to screen readers. Camel case can help differentiate each word and won’t read out your hashtag as one long word. For example:
Do this: #TorontoMet
Not this: #torontomet #dontdothis
Currently it is not possible to add alt text to animated GIFs on most social media platforms. If using animated GIFs, it's recommended to combine it with text-based content that either describes the GIF or makes the content comprehensive on its own.
Also avoid sharing GIFs that contain rapid flashing content that may trigger epileptic seizures to people with photosensitive epilepsy.
Inclusive language is language that is free from terminology, tones or phrases that reflect stereotyped or discriminatory views of particular people or groups. Explore the following inclusive language guidelines:
- PDF fileInclusive Language in Media: A Canadian Style Guide, external link (Source: Humber College)
- Includes guidance and terminology when speaking about persons with disabilities.
- PDF fileWords Matter: Guidelines on using inclusive language in the workplace, external link (Source: British Columbia Public Service)
- Includes guidance on writing about culture, ancestry, religion, marital/family status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.
- A Way with Words and Images: Suggestions for the portrayal of people with disabilities, external link (Source: Government of Canada)