First and foremost, making our social media community accessible to all is just the right thing to do. Secondly, we have a legal requirement to make information and content that pertains to services, activities and programs offered by the university accessible. You probably don't need a third reason, but we'll give you one anyway: providing image descriptions can have benefits when it comes to Search Engine Optimization.
All images on university social media channels must include an image description or alt-text.
How to Include Image Descriptions
You can choose to put an image description in the bottom of the post caption, or use one of the pre-built fields on most major social media channels. Here's where to find the alt text field on Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite and Instagram.
Facebook: Once you've loaded an image file into your post, hover over the image until two grayed-out circles appear. Click on the paintbrush icon to edit the photo. Once in the photo editing window, click on the alt text section and fill in your brief image description into the field to override the auto-generated alt text.
Twitter: The first step is to enable image descriptions by visiting Settings and Privacy > Accessibility > Compose Image Descriptions. Once image descriptions are enabled, a new field will appear at the bottom of an image when one is uploaded in the Compose new Tweet window. Click "add description" to fill in a brief image description.
Instagram: Before you hit "Share," select "Advanced Settings" at the bottom of the screen. In the Advanced Settings screen, select "Write Alt Text" under the "Accessibility" heading. Then, fill in your brief image description in the available field.
Hootsuite: Currently alt-text in Hootsuite is only available for Twitter posts. First, make sure you've followed the above instructions to enable image descriptions within Twitter. In the Hootsuite "New Post" window, select an image to upload. Then, click "Edit image details" and put a brief image description in the Alt-text field that appears.
Image Description/Alt-Text Tips
- You don't have to paint a long, detailed word-picture. Instead, think about what information, emotion or tone the image is trying to convey and describe that.
- Be sure to include any info a person would need to participate in a "program, service or activity" hosted by the university.
- When using infographics, avoid redundancy and only include in the alt-text information that is not already covered in the post copy.
- Avoid assuming any person's gender, race or identity. Unless it's pertinent to the post, leave that info out. If it is pertinent to the post, then always ask people how they identify before you write your image description.
- Use general terms and avoid specialized jargon, if possible.
All videos posted natively to social media must have captions at the time that they are posted. If you cannot post the video natively with captions, then a link to an accessible version of the video is required either in the post copy or in a follow-up comment or tweet.
- You can use YouTube or Facebook's auto-generate function, but you must manually review them as they are only about 95% accurate and often incorrectly display proper nouns. For example, the university's name or the name of a speaker.
- If you're going to post a video to both YouTube and Facebook, you can generate and correct your captions in YouTube first. Then, you can download that finished caption file as an .srt & upload it to Facebook to caption the Facebook version of the video. (Note: this only works when going from YouTube to Facebook and not the other way around.)
- Closed captions are the most accessible. Open or "burned in" captions are helpful for sighted users, but are not accessible for those using assistive technologies.
- Try using a screen reader or other assistive technology to get a better idea of what is useful and what is frustrating. (VoiceOver for Apple or TalkBack for Android are two examples.)
- Use camel case for hashtags, like #MondayMotivation.
- It's typically more efficient to make one version of your content that is accessible, but if that's not an option, you can and must link to a separate, accessible version of the content.
- Updating all of the posts you've ever published can seem like an overwhelming project. Focus on making sure all of your content moving forward is accessible and only go back and update past inaccessible content as time allows.
- Here's a printable guide (pdf) for easy offline reference.