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Accessibility and Social Media

Closed captioning for videos is important for accessibility

Accessibility has become increasingly important in website development and companies like Baseline Creative are using WCAG 2.1 standards to build ADA-compliant websites. Social media platforms are also working toward more accessibility, especially for those who are visually impaired and the Deaf and Hard Of Hearing community.

Instagram recently launched a new automated caption feature for Stories. In September 2020, Instagram added captioning capability to IGTV available in 16 languages. Automated captioning for Stories starts with English and English-speaking countries, but Instagram is looking to expand to other languages. In addition to captioning for Stories and IGTV, Instagram is working on bringing the same technology to their “Reels” product, which is a similar format to TikTok. While third-party apps have been helpful to creators to add captions in multiple platforms, the ability to caption natively is ideal.

As a primarily visual platform, Instagram can be difficult for those with visual impairments to navigate. If a user who is visually impaired clicks on a post and there is no alt-text, they won’t know what the image is supposed to be—especially if the caption doesn’t describe the image. However, creators can manually add alt-text to Instagram posts by editing their photos as usual and then click on Advanced and Accessibility. This is an extra step, but it’s critical to connect with your followers who experience vision loss.

Instagram creators can also make posts more accessible by using more descriptive language in IG Stories or with IGTV and in the captions of the posts. Hashtagging is essential on Instagram but be sure to use CamelCase when you post. This means instead of a hashtag like this, #itsgonnabemay the creator capitalizes the first letter of each word, like this, #ItsGonnaBeMay. This allows screen readers to read the hashtag as intended.

Other social media platforms have implemented captioning or are rolling out similar features. TikTok has announced an auto-captions feature that automatically generates subtitles on videos. Creators can then edit the captions as necessary for clarity before uploading a finished video. Twitter also allows users to add alt-text to the images and gifs used in tweets. Facebook has had closed captions on videos for several years and allows users to edit photos in posts to include alt-text.

Social media is meant to create a community for its users. If a group of people such as those with visual impairments or those who are Deaf or Hard Of Hearing is left out, it’s not a true representation of the whole community. Adding captions, being descriptive in captions and posts, creating accessible hashtags, and adding alt-text to visuals used in social media help create a more accessible and inclusive experience for all users.

Baseline Creative is committed to inclusivity and accessibility in the work we do. From creating websites compliant with WCAG 2.1 standards to using accessibility features in social media, Baseline is working toward creating a more accessible experience for all users. If you’re looking for a digital company to help you with accessibility efforts, contact us.