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If you are trying to build a business, accessibility should be priority because if it is not accessible, disabled face unnecessary barriers and can’t access your business like abled people can, nor will we recommend an inaccessible business to our friends. People sometimes do a decent job making their in person services accessible but when it comes to your social media platforms a lot the time it’s not accessible. It is sometimes assumed that everything you post on Twitter is accessible because major social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have image descriptions built into them but I wouldn’t rely on these services to do everything for you because they tend to be inaccurate and don’t describe images well. Most people find businesses online and I would hope that your goal is to reach as many people as possible but you will not achieve that if your social media accounts are only accessible to some people. I recently visited many social media accounts from businesses, and the one thing they all had in common that could be affecting their growth was that they were not accessible. There are a lot of reasons why I think a vast majority of social media accounts are not accessible but I think the main was is people don’t want to put in the time of effort to make it accessible or don’t know how. this post, I am going to talk about how you can make your social media posts more accessible for people with disabilities.
Provide image descriptions- If you have read any of my Instagram or Facebook posts you may have noticed that at the end almost every post I have an image description. Why do I describe images? Most of my audience is fully-sighted and has no difficulty seeing my posts but I don’t describe images for my sighted audience but I do it for people who can’t see them to help them understand what it . Social media platforms will always have image description built into them but from what I learned from the blind community is that they are not always accurate and is advised that you do it yourself. If you have a personal social media account and have no blind friends it might not be necessary to have image descriptions but all businesses should have them because it can help reach more people. As a sighted person, I hate doing image descriptions because sometimes I feel like I am not describing an image as well I could but it’s important to describe all the colors in your photo and text that is there even if you don’t do it with one-hundred percent accuracy because some people can’t images and without image description they will not be able to enjoy them and probably won’t follow you.
Add subtitles to video content- Screen readers can make it easier for blind people to enjoy content that is all text, and usually, the blind community prefers content they can listen to but for someone who is deaf, video content would not be very accessible because you wouldn’t be able to hear it. If you are a content creator it is recommended that you have both audio and readable versions because some people may find it easier to read posts while other prefer to listen to them. I have not made a podcast of me reading blog posts lately because my computer died a few months back and I didn’t have a way to do it easily but prior to that happening I made weekly podcast episodes of blog posts that I have written. It takes a lot of time to write and create audio versions but it can bring you a lot of views and is so worth it! If you are a YouTuber or create reels on Instagram ,I would recommend you turn your subtitles because some people won’t be able to hear your audio and can’t enjoy your content without them Short video descriptions can still be helpful because sometimes the automatic subtitles are still a little off.
Do not create images that have a lot of flashing lights- When posting an image online something I see people doing often is posting an image with a lot of flashing lights. Please do not post images online that has any kind of flashing lights because it can trigger seizures in people with epilepsy and migraine attacks in people with migraine disorders. If you are business and must have those kinds of images please do some kind of trigger warning in the beginning to help warn people who can’t tolerate them because we need to know about these triggers before we go into a seizure.
Skip the fancy designs on your website- When you visit a website, the design and overall look of it can make or break your website because if it’s sloppy and has a million ads popping up every five seconds, people tend to not stay very long. There are tons of templates that creators can use to make their website more appealing to visitors but I’d be cautious about using templates with a bunch of fancy designs because some people have a hard time reading through them. When I first started blogging, I used a lot of templates with fancy designs because I wanted to show some personality through the design of my website but since then I have learned that fancy designs are not always the best choice because it can be a barrier for some blind and low-vision people. People who are blind or have low vision tend to have a harder time navigating websites with fancy designs and dark colors because they can’t see them as easily as a sighted person. White sometimes may feel boring, but it’s the best color to use for a website because it’s easier for people low-vision people that may be on the borderline of blindness to read.
Make your font larger: When I write a blog post, I never use the standard font size because for some people it might be too small and will exit out of your post before reading it, so I always go back to make it a little bit larger. If you are using WordPress, the font size is easily customizable but a lot of people don’t do it, which could cause you to lose views. You don’t want to make your font too big either because if it’s too big it can also be problematic and difficult for people to read but it can make such a difference even if it’s only a point or two bigger.
Clearly mark your hashtags – Hashtags are great because they can help new people find your business but, what I have learned from the blind community is that they are not accessible. If you are going to use hashtags, make sure that you are clearly marking them because screen readers tend to read hashtags as one word, which can be confusing for a blind person. There are two ways that you can make your hashtags more accessible and the first is to capitalize the first letter in each word and the second way is to clearly mark the hashtags before listing what they are.
Accessibility is something that is usually taken into consideration for in-person visits, but when it comes to social media, it often is forgotten about and there is almost no accessibility. When I visit someone’s social media account, I do not struggle with understanding what the images are because I can see them, but many blind people do face barriers that can easily be fixed. It can take a lot of time and effort to make your social media accessible, but it is necessary for disabled people because it can be difficult to navigate your website when accessibility was not a priority. There are many businesses that I think are doing good things, but I would never recommend them to my disabled audience due to their lack of accessibility. I am always working on making my posts more accessible but even as a disabled person who understands barriers more than most people would, it can still be difficult to make my posts fully accessible for everyone because I only understand accessibility based on my experiences of living with one disability. Make your social media as accessible as you can because disabled people should not be the only ones that make their content accessible, and everyone needs to do it. How do you make your social media posts accessible?
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