Accessibility: How to Make Social Media More Accessible

This service is for faculty, staff, and students.

This article reviews how to make social media content produced by the university more accessible.

What is Digital Accessibility

Digital accessibility is the practice of making your digital content usable by as many people as possible. Accessibility is vitally important for people with disabilities, but also increases usability for everyone. By making accessibility a cornerstone of content development, we ensure visitors to our various social media accounts are not excluded from accessing content about the university.

Why is it Important?

In keeping with our convictions of Pursuit of Truth, Dignity, Diversity, and Personal Attention, the University of St. Thomas is committed to providing a website that is accessible and barrier-free to the widest possible audience.  We do this by striving to comply with best practices and standards defined by Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA.

As a community, we work to meet and exceed these standards and recognize this is a constant work in progress.

The University of St. Thomas is required to comply with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation act. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation act requires that persons with disabilities have comparable access to and use of information and communication technology (ICT), which means all the digital content of a university.

How to Make Social Media More Accessible

With a few easy steps, you can ensure you social media account is more accessible to people with disabilities.  

  •     Use Plain Language
  •     Use Camel Case for Hashtags
  •     Color Contrast
  •     Captions
  •     Alt-Text

Use Plain Language

Writing in plain language is a way to ensure that people can understand and use the information provided by a social media post. Plain language is the concept of writing in a clear, concise manner.

Key best practices for writing in plain language include:

  •     Avoid acronyms when possible
  •     Choose words that are common and easy to understand.
  •     Avoid run-on sentences. Use clear, short sentences and paragraphs.
  •     Write in the active voice instead of the passive voice.

Learn more about plain language at Five Steps to Plain Language

Use Camel Case for Hashtags

That means capitalize each first letter of each word in a hashtag. i.e. #TommieTuesdays vs #tommietuesdays. This makes hashtags easier to read visually and for screen readers to pronounce the individual words more clearly.

Color Contrast, Font Size and Type

Check your images, your bio section, thumbnail images and graphics, and your Instagram and Snapchat stories to make sure there is a high contrast of colors to ensure legibility, particularly for those who live with color blindness. Use a color contrast analyzer tool, such as this color contrast checker. It can help you determine if your content complies with accessibility standards.

Don't use color alone to indicate meaning. For instance a red, yellow, green status update. You would want to add a letter or patter to show the different colors, such as Complete, In-Progress, and Not-Started.

Generally, use a sans-serif font like verdana, instead of a serif font like Times New Roman. Serif fonts are harder to read.

Don't use fonts smaller than a 12 pt (16 px) font.


Over 28 million American adults are deaf or hard of hearing. For those individuals, having accurate captions is vital to conveying information. Without captions, they are kept from accessing the same information. However, captions also help those who are listening to the video in a noisy room, are commuting on a bus, have better reading than listening comprehension or simply prefer to have the captions running. 85% of people watch Facebook videos on mute.

There are a few different types of captions:

  • Closed Captions: captions the user chooses to turn on.
  • Open Captions: always on captions
  • Subtitles: captions embedded into the video

For closed captions, you need a .srt file associated with the video. The .srt file provides the captions and timing for when to display the captions. Some tools will auto-generate a caption file that you can use and download (Youtube, Panopto, Zoom Recordings). However, if you use auto-generate caption, you must review them for accuracy.

Your other option for video captions is to have them professionally done by a service. The university uses a company called Verbit.

  •  STELAR is the point people for captioning for academic videos.
  • For non-academic videos, Marketing, Insights and Communication can assist in getting videos captioned.

For non-academic videos, you can work with your embedded MICer or request an account through Brad Jacobsen to Verbit. Verbit generally takes a few business days and up to a week. Captions take time, factor that into your process.

Once the caption is complete in Verbit, you will log in and download the .srt file.

Once you have an .srt file, you need to upload it with your video to social media.


Alternative text, or “alt-text” describes the content of images, graphs and charts. It should be added to every image on social media. When someone is using a screen reader or braille display, the alt-text is read off in place of seeing the image.   

Alt text should answer this question: What is the content conveyed by the image?

The content of the image is not simply a description of the surface features of the image or graphic. Instead, describe what additional content the graphic contains.  

  • What information do you want the reader to gain from looking at the image?  
  • What is the main idea being expressed by the graphic?  
  • Write in simple, precise language, and keep the explanation brief.  
  • Typically, no more than a few words are necessary, though rarely a short sentence or two may be appropriate. (Tip: Don't start your alt-text with "Image of" or "Picture of" this is not necessary information.)

Where possible, avoid images of text. Text can be hard to view if a user needs to zoom in significantly. If using an image of text, make sure your alt-text accurately depicts the text or include everything written on the image in the text of the website.

Add alt-text to social media:

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Article ID: 128828
Fri 2/26/21 9:13 AM
Thu 10/13/22 11:57 AM

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