People of all ages, interests, and abilities use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms to share content and engage in conversations. Millions of social media participants have disabilities, including those that impact their ability to see, hear, and access a standard keyboard and mouse. Many use assistive technologies such as screen readers to read aloud content on the screen and alternate keyboards that emulate the computer keyboard but not the mouse.

Today, most popular social media platforms include some accessibility features and regularly roll out accessibility improvements. Current instructions for using accessibility features of a specific social media platform may be found on the platform website; if it can’t be found there, it is unlikely the tool developers have paid much attention to accessibility issues.

To ensure the accessibility of posts on social media, the authors of posts must use relevant accessibility features and employ other inclusive strategies that include the following.

  • Compose hashtags using upper and lower case letters—e.g., #BestTripEver rather than #besttripever. Individuals who have disabilities related to reading or sight are among the many beneficiaries of this practice.
  • Show respect to members of all groups of people. Avoid, for example, negative phrases that relate to disabilities, like “He’s crazy” or “What an insane thing to say.”
  • Address a wide range of language skills as you write content (e.g., use plain English, spell out acronyms, define terms, avoid or define jargon).
  • Use emojis sparingly. Although a screen reader may be able to read aloud descriptions of emojis—e.g., “Smiling face with sunglasses,”—it is time consuming to read aloud all the descriptions for a long list of emojis.
  • Use descriptive wording for hyperlink text (e.g., “DO-IT website” rather than “click here”).
  • Provide concise text descriptions of content presented within images.
  • Caption videos and, ideally, include audio descriptions. Often, you can find instructions for editing computer-generated captions on the website for the platform, such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook.
For more information about making online resources and engagement accessible to people with disabilities, consult Federal Social Media Accessibility Toolkit HackpadIntroduction to Web Accessibility and Universal Design of Technology in The Center on Universal Design in Education.