Accessible Social Media
Use the resources provided here to create social media content that is available and accessible to the widest audience possible.
When posting content on social media, remember that different people perceive information differently. Text, images and video content should be understandable by everyone.
Text, Links, and Emojis
Language and Text
- Be concise; keep posts simple and clear. Avoid long paragraphs of text.
- Use plain language. Avoid unnecessary abbreviations, symbols, and special characters.
- Avoid using all caps for emphasis.
- Use links sparingly and keep them relevant to the post.
- Use concise, descriptive link text that includes the link’s purpose or destination.
- Avoid using a URL as visible link text whenever possible.
If emojis are used, use them sparingly. They may be interpreted different ways by different individuals and by different technology.
- Use plain text that does not rely on emojis to understand meaning.
- Use emojis after sentences instead of mid-sentence.
- Avoid using excessive or repeated emojis.
Hashtags can be helpful to connect to or reference content and categories, but can also be confusing or harmful if misused.
- Limit the use of hashtags
- Include hashtags at the end of a post
- If a hashtag contains multiple words, capitalize the first letter of each word. #NortheasternUniversity instead of #Northeasternuniversity
Fonts and Style
- Most social media platforms do not provide a mechanism to customize the font or text color. Do not use a custom font style generator.
- When including text in images, review best practices for graphics and flyers.
Images and Audio/Video
Ensure that information in images, video, and audio content is perceivable and understandable for everyone.
- Images and informational graphics should include alt text.
- Visual information in videos should be described in the audio track.
- Videos with audio should include text captions.
- Transcripts are beneficial for all types of audio/video content, but are only required for audio-only content (such as a podcast).
Alt Text and Image Descriptions
Include a concise, descriptive text alternative for all informational images. This is typically referred to as an image description or alt text.
- Refer to the guidance for each social media platform for directions on adding alt text.
- Avoid descriptions that are automatically generated or check for accuracy.
- For longer, complex text descriptions, the text alternative can be placed in the post description field or linked to another location.
- Do not add descriptions for decorative images or decorative content.
- Beginning your alt text with the word “Image” or “Photo” is unnecessary and redundant.
Images with text
- If an image contains meaningful text, describe it in the text alternative. Information such as event descriptions, dates, and times should always be included in alt text if they are listed in the image.
- Choose a font that is easy to read, and use a contrast checker such as Adobe Color to check contrast between the text and background color.
Videos and animated content
Accessible videos always include captions for spoken content and any other meaningful audio that conveys information. Captions are also important for viewers who have their device muted.
- Captions should include necessary grammar and identify and differentiate speakers when applicable. Guidance for writing effective captions is available from Captioning Key.
- Use easy to read caption text with high contrast between the text and background.
- Auto-generated captions should always be checked for accuracy.
The visual information in a video should be described in the audio track or presented in a separate audio track. A complete text transcript which includes all of the visual information is helpful but is not always considered an accessible alternative.
Text transcripts are an effective accessible alternative for two types of content:
- Video-only content (video with no audio track or no meaningful audio)
- Audio-only content (such as a podcast)
Text transcripts can be a helpful supplement for other types of content, but should not be used as a substitute for captions or descriptive audio.
Text transcripts and descriptions should be easy to locate. The text can be adjacent to the visual content using the post description field or linked to another location which is recommended for longer text. Keep in mind, lengthy text is not supported within most social media platforms.
General Considerations for Video and Audio
- Video and audio should not play automatically and should be controlled by the user.
- Ensure the recorded voices are clear, and language is easy to understand.
- Limit the use of flashing or blinking content and abrupt transitions.
- Background sounds and music should be significantly lower than any voice or informational audio.
- Text alternatives for animated GIFs that do not support alt text or a text “description” should be added in the post’s main text field.
Graphics and Event Flyers
Social media posts are often supplemented by engaging, informative images. In addition to providing a text alternative, consider accessibility when designing the image.
Fonts and Styles
- Avoid decorative and script fonts.
- Avoid small font sizes; 12pt or larger is recommended.
- Use “left aligned” text
- Avoid the use of italics and ligatures.
- Use easy to read fonts which are high contrast against the background.
- Avoid using text over images, or add an outline or solid text background color.
- Do not use color to convey meaning or importance. For example, “dates in red have been cancelled.” Instead use an asterisk* or other font attribute.
- Always use colors that are high contrast against the background, for text and captions. Smaller text should have higher contrast. Tools such as Adobe Color can be used to evaluate color contrast.
Provide an Alternative
If a post cannot be made accessible:
- Offer the accessible content on a webpage or another platform.
- Provide a link to the accessible version and make the purpose of the link clear.
Provide Contact Information
Provide a contact email address or an accessible messaging system, and ensure the messages are read and resolved in a reasonable timeframe.