How to make Social Media posts more accessible for the blind or visually impaired

Recently, members of the ASIP Committee for Career Development and Diversity (CCDD) led by Andrew Duncan and including Chad Walesky and myself (Daisy Shu) along with ASIP Marketing and Communications Manager, Gina Laborde, hosted a virtual workshop entitled “Promote Yourself and Your Science” on September 15th 2020 featuring speakers Eric Perkins from Addgene, Samira Kiani from University of Pittsburgh and myself. We had a great turnout with over 80 attendees tuning in and many great questions. One of the questions that struck me as a very important (particularly given that my research is in curing eye diseases), was on how to make social media posts more accessible to the blind or visually impaired. Indeed, social media is quite a visual platform, with posts often attracting more attention when associated with an image or video. We had a lot of fantastic tips and article links from both panelists and attendees during the meeting so I thought it’d be great to write a blog post to bring it all together.

Thank you to Dr. Deborah for sharing the Twitter account @DisabledStem with us! Check out their website for great articles, real-life stories, resources and mentorship program for people with disabilities in STEM.

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@ASIPath Here is a good thread about accessibility on Twitter and other social media platforms. Check out and possibly collaborate with @DisabledStem. #ASIPSocial #DisabledInSTEM #ScienceTwitter #ScienceComm

Alt text is an important tool to utilize with visual content. Twitter has a useful explanation on how to add an image description. This is a great Twitter post explaining how to add Alt Text to your images:

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So how do you go about adding alt text to your post? When you load an image, a little black +ALT button will appear on the image (image 1). If you press this, then your view will change to a write alt text page which is the image with a blank text box at the bottom (image 2).

Check out this thread talking about the different types of posts on Twitter and how to increase their accessibility:

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Let’s start with twitter since that’s the platform we are on! You can do several different types of posts on twitter:- feed posts (w/ images, infographics, links, gifs or videos)- livestreams – polls

Make your hashtags accessible by using Camel Case for multiword hashtags e.g. #MakeTwitterAccessible or #ASIPSocial rather than #maketwitteraccessible #asipsocial

Good colour contrast in your images to increase visibility of content

Add captions for videos

Here is some links for some more tips on accessibility:

5 ways to make your tweets accessible

About 14 million people in the UK have a disability, and many more around the world. Perhaps your tweets aren’t getting the biggest audience that they could? Making your stream accessible could help. In 2016, Twitter brought in an option to give descriptions for images on Twitter.

7 Ways to Make Social Media Accessible | GovLoop

Social Media I recently saw an agency post a photo of a printed flyer to Instagram. Not only was it difficult to read; there was no caption provided to explain what was in the image. While this is a quick way to get information out, it was not necessarily the most effective or accessible.

Hope you enjoyed this post and got some ideas for making your social media content more accessible!

Daisy Y. Shu @eyedaisyshu on Twitter/Instagram

Interested in contributing original content to the ASIP blog? Contact me at daisy_shu@meei.harvard.edu to get involved!