Skip to content

Accessibility in Social Media


Web users spend significant time on social media to receive information and news, so why not improve their experience by making a few simple changes? Creating social media content with accessibility in mind ensures your message is understood by everyone, helping you reach an even wider audience. This guide will help you create accessible posts by covering these topics:

Using Emojis

Emojis are a common way to make social media posts stand out and a “fun” demental part of digital expression. If used effectively, emojis can enhance the message for users of all abilities. Consider the following best practices for using emojis.

Use 2 or 3 distinct emojis at the end of the main message

The best practice for using emojis is to add 2 to 3 at the end of a post so the main message is read first. Used this way, emojis support the idea rather than interrupt it. Adding emojis at the beginning or middle of a post disrupts the reading flow of assistive technology for those with visual impairments. The message could be lost completely if too many emojis are used in a row.

Bad example

“Excited to start a new 👨‍🎓📚 school year! Learn about our services and make new connections 🤝🔗 at tonight’s event. 🎉🍕 Pizza will be served!”

This is what a screen reader would read:

“Excited to start a new man student books school year! Learn about our services and make new connections handshake link at tonight’s event. Party popper pizza will be served!”

Good Example

“Excited to start a new school year! Learn about our services and make new connections at tonight’s event. Pizza will be served! 🤝🎉”

Do not use emojis to replace words

Replacing words with emojis will also disrupt the reading flow of assistive technologies and may cause cognitive overload for some users.

Bad Example

“⏳ is running out ‼️ Only 5️⃣ more days until our 🆕 event. ❌ wait - register ➡️”

Not only would this confuse assistive technology users, but it could also be confusing to those whose devices or browsers do not support emojis. Without the emojis, the message would look like this:

� is running out � Only � more days until our � event. � wait - register �”

In this instance, the post does not completely convey the main idea. Similar to the previous tip, it is best to stick to using a few emojis at the end of the message.

Good Example

“Time is running out! Only 5 more days until our new event. Don’t wait - register at ⏳”

Double-check the emoji name for clarity

When assistive technology encounters an emoji, it will recite its name. The name is a universally used description, and it might not be what you expect. If the name does not match your intention, a user might not understand your message.

Also, emojis can have different meanings depending on the context and the cultural background of the user. For example, this is called a folded hands emoji:🙏. It could be interpreted as someone praying, begging, or saying thank you, but “folded hands” does not convey those ideas.

Knowing the description ensures a clear message and avoids confusion. Refer to the Unicode emoji chart or search on Emojipedia for a list of emojis and their names. This is also handy for ensuring that universal design principles are adhered to, so everyone can participate in the conversation regardless of their abilities.

Effective Hashtags

Using hashtags can attract wider audiences to your social media channels. Effective marketing campaigns often include a few relevant hashtags in posts to reach new followers. Consider these tips to make hashtags accessible.

Capitalize the beginning of words

If a hashtag has multiple words, capitalize the beginning of each word. This ensures that the meaning of the hashtag is clear to all users.

Good Examples

  • #MotivationMonday
  • #ThrowbackThursday
  • #ECCFoundationGala

Add hashtags at the end

Similar to using emojis, it is best practice to add hashtags to the end of the post so the main message is read first. Do not replace words in the middle of a sentence with a hashtag. This can confuse assistive technology users, and the meaning of the message would be lost.

For example,

"Did you know the Spartan Drive campus opened for the first time in 1970? Back then, the only building on campus was Building B! #ThrowbackThursday #ECC75"

How to Add Alternative Text to Social Posts

Almost every post includes at least one image. Images are the main way information is shared on social media, so it is necessary to ensure that all images have alternative text, also known as alt text. Alt text is descriptive text of visual graphics that is used when content is unavailable to a user. Alt text is usually read via a screen reader, and it can also be displayed if an image fails to load.

Here are some general tips for writing good alt text for social media:

  • Keep it short and simple. Try to use 100 characters or less.
  • If an image contains text, write all of it in the alt text or as part of the post itself.
  • Describe relevant actions, emotions, and expressions. If the image references another form of media, include the source.

Some examples of good alt text:

  • Sparks from a welding torch light up the masked head of a welder.
  • Two students excitedly pet a labrador dog.
  • Michael Scott from The Office repeatedly yells, “No!”

Review the alternative text section of the accessibility page for a more detailed overview of proper alt text.

Refer to the following links for specific instructions on how to add alt text to images on Facebook, Instagram, X, and LinkedIn.

How to Create Video Captions on Different Social Media Platforms

Video posts are increasing in popularity as a way to increase engagement with others. Including closed captions with the video makes it accessible to those with hearing impairments and those in difficult hearing environments, such as on a crowded train.

To include closed captions, you need to create an SRT file for some platforms. This can be done automatically through a third-party service. It can also be created manually by using any word processor, such as a text document. This Indeed article, How To Create SRT Subtitles in 8 Steps (Plus Tips), provides a step-by-step guide on how to create an SRT file manually.

Refer to the following links for specific instructions on how to add video captions on Facebook, Instagram, X, and LinkedIn.