The world is becoming a much more accessible place for people with disabilities; most public buildings have a ramp for access and flights of stairs often have high contrast edging to make them more visible, but when it comes to the internet there’s still a lot of work to do. Here are a few quick and easy things you can do to help make your content more accessible to everybody. It’s easy to do and might help you to get some engagement from people who wouldn’t usually interact with your content.
1. Describe your photos
A quick description of a photo added to a social media post can be a big help to those with a visual impairment. Screen readers (the software that allows blind or visually impaired people to use phones or computers by reading out text) are getting smarter and they might sometimes be able to guess what’s going on in a photo, but the best way to be sure is by adding a little description yourself. If you’ve taken an awesome picture of yourself up a mountain a screen reader could describe it from anything from ‘photo’ to ‘photo of a mountain’ or even ‘photo of a mountain with a person’ and as cool as that is, it still lacks detail. A quick line from you saying ‘a photo of me standing at the summit of Snowdon’ would make a real difference to the story being told.
If you have a blog or website, you might be able to add some ‘alt text’ to an image which won’t be visible on the blog or image itself but will be picked up by screen readers (this is what it’s for). If you’re not too worried about descriptions being visible, adding them as a caption will also work perfectly.
2. Be mindful of using images with text in them
We know this is a big thing on the internet and social media with memes and quotes, but screen readers really struggle to read out text if it’s in an image. A quick write up of what the image says in the post or comments could really help. If you are organising an event and want to post an image with some details, that’s totally cool, but try to make sure the details are somewhere else in the post too!
If you are not sure if your text will be picked up, an easy test is to think about whether the text could be copied and pasted. If it can, a screen reader will probably read it out. If it can’t then there is a good chance it won’t.
3. Subtitle your videos
This is a good idea anyway as lots of people prefer to watch videos muted, but people who are deaf or hard of hearing will really appreciate it and it’s straightforward to do. Facebook and YouTube have options for adding captions built into them and they’ll even auto-generate or sync themselves. This will take a little bit more effort than the other tips here, but the benefits are far reaching.
Now you know a few ways to make your content more accessible, you can get started right away. It might seem strange to add a description of a photo saying exactly what most people will see to begin with, but most people won’t notice them or you could use them to add a bit more to the story.
If you want a little more inspiration, the Guide Dogs facebook page is a great example of things being done well.
You can also look at our blog to see how we’ve done things. We’re not tech experts but we do what we can and try to keep the workflow simple. If you have any questions at all you'd also be more than welcome to get in touch with us.