Accessibility | Social Media


Social media is an essential tool and a necessary medium for communicating with students, employees and the general public. Though used ubiquitously as a way to engage various audiences, there is a general lack of awareness and understanding of how to ensure that social media is accessible to all users.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires colleges and universities to give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all programs, services and activities – which includes online learning communities, Website content and social media communication.

If this requirement is news to you, don’t worry. There are a few simple strategies that communication teams can implement to maximize the effectiveness of messaging and to meet the requirements set forth by the ADA.

All Videos Must Be Captioned

Most social media platforms that allow longer videos have an area where you can add captions to your videos, but you’ll have to add captions to each platform manually. Uploading videos to YouTube, where it can easily be captioned, then posting the YouTube link is a simple way of sharing videos across multiple platforms.

Avoid Automatic Alt-Text or Captioning

Many platforms generate automatic alt-text for photos and captioning for videos. Though helpful, the tools are rarely 100-percent accurate. To avoid confusion or inadequate information, manually add alt-text and captions to content.

Avoid using acronyms and abbreviations

As a general rule, acronyms and abbreviations can confuse an audience, but they are especially confusing to the screen readers that vision impaired users rely on. To avoid confusion, spell out acronyms and abbreviations on the first reference, or avoid them altogether.

Caption Must Explain Image

To be compliant, images accompanied by a caption or alt-text must explain the content of the image. This is especially important in graphics that communicate information.

Have a Social Media Policy

Make social media a priority for existing accessibility efforts and develop an enforceable policy to ensure compliance.

Limit Access

To lessen the chance of posting non-compliant content, limit the number of staff with social media privileges and make sure those with privileges are aware of accessibility rules.

Never Post an Image without a Caption

All social media images must be accompanied by descriptive text – either in the caption or alt-text. (Some social media platforms, including Instagram and Snapchat, currently do not offer an alt-text feature.)

Post Web Links

Add hyperlinks from the institution webpage to provide additional information or matching content. Some platforms, such as Instagram, do not allow hyperlinks. Also, make sure linked pages are ADA compliant as well.

Review Content Regularly

Create a task force or assign a team member with the responsibility of reviewing social media content for accessibility compliance.