Social Media Accessibility

Social Media Accessibility at UAlbany

These guidelines are intended to help University at Albany staff, faculty and students create social media content that is accessible to people with disabilities.

UAlbany adheres to SUNY’s Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) Accessibility Policy, which recognizes SUNY institutions’ responsibility to assure that individuals with disabilities and individuals who are temporarily disabled have equitable access to electronic information resources, which includes University social media. 

Each social media platform has different accessibility features and limitations. Check with each individual platform to review their accessibility resources and most up-to-date capabilities. The following topics are universal across all platforms.
 

Alternative Text Descriptions for Images

Alternative text (also known as alt text, alt tags and alt descriptions) is a written image description that helps screen reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers. It also appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load. Alt text descriptions are read aloud through a screen reader to visually impaired readers.

Best practices for alternative text

  • Describe the image itself. 
  • Be succinct. 
  • Use dashes for acronyms. For example, you might write “LC” as “L-C” so the screen reader doesn’t pronounce it as “lc” 
  • Avoid redundancy. No need to include “Image of…” in the description since the alt text implies that information.
  • End the alt text with a period. It causes screen readers to pause slightly, making for an easier reading experience.

For example:

Three students wearing American Red Cross volunteer vests pose for a picture outside of the entrance to a building. The letters “E-T-E-C” are above the building entrance.
Alt text: Three students wearing American Red Cross volunteer vests pose for a picture outside of the entrance to a building. The letters “E-T-E-C” are above the building entrance.
Captions for Videos

For all video content, you must provide captions of the audio for those who are hard-of-hearing, or non-native speakers. There are two types of captions: closed captions (where a user can enable or disable the captions) or open captions (where the text is embedded or burned into the video and cannot be turned on or off). 

Do not rely on auto-captioning if it is offered by a platform. Auto-captioning typically contains several grammatical and spelling errors. If you do use auto-captioning, be sure to review and edit as necessary before publishing.

Review the social media platform’s accessibility support features to determine which captioning type is needed. A general rule of thumb is if you cannot upload a .srt file with your video, you should use open captions and burn the captions into your video.

Emojis

Screen readers will describe emojis included in social media posts. The 👍 emoji will be read aloud as “thumbs up.”

Do not use emojis in place of words (especially words that convey important information) and do not use emojis in the middle of a sentence. Consider the experience for screen reader users.

For example:

A screenshot of a Tweet from the UAlbany account, which reads: “Come back for homecoming! House with garden We want to see you back on campus! Hands raised Red admission ticket Reserve your spot today!”
How this tweet would be read aloud: “Come back for homecoming! House with garden We want to see you back on campus! Hands raised Red admission ticket Reserve your spot today!”


Do not use symbols to create an emoji or emoticon. “:-)” will be read aloud by a screen reader as “colon dash right parenthesis.”

It is recommended to use emojis and emoticons sparingly.

CamelCase for Hashtags

Hashtags are an important component of social media posts.

When creating and using hashtags that are made up of multiple words, use CamelCase. CamelCase, also known as initial capitalization or initial caps, means capitalizing the first letter of multiple words in a hashtag, which makes the hashtag appear to have humps (like a camel’s back).

Utilizing this simple technique makes the hashtag easier to read for all users and is more consumable by screen readers since their synthesized voices can recognize and pronounce individual words. 

For Example: #OneOfTheGreats is in CamelCase and is easier to read than #oneofthegreats.