How can you make your Facebook posts reach millions more people? These tips will help make sure that people with disabilities can still access your photos, videos and words.
1. Add captions or alt text to photos
So that people who or blind or who have vision loss can understand your photos, you could either add more detail about a picture into the Facebook post which includes your photo - that way the post makes more sense everyone. Or you can edit the automatic alt text which Facebook automatically generates on images. This text is often quite simplistic - ie, it might just say something like ‘1 person’ or 1 person, glasses, smiling’. Note you can only do this using a computer as it doesn’t work on a phone.
To change this automatic text, choose one of your uploaded photos. Click the ‘edit’ button in the top right-hand corner, then select ‘change alt text’. Keep the text short and to the point. If the image is purely decorative, you can leave the box blank. But if the image contains words, it’s good practice to convey those words in the alt text, or better still, in the main post.
2. Automatic video captions
Facebook adds automatic captions to videos, as does Youtube. For users of your page who are deaf or who have hearing loss, as well as people who might just prefer to have the sound off because they’re at work or in a public place, this feature is useful. People who are blind can listen to the captions. Find out more about how to edit captions here. If a video has few words in it, it’s good practice to provide a written or audio description of what's happening/explain the message or meaning.
3. Facebook live streaming
Live streaming is becoming increasingly popular on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. As a baseline of accessibility, you might want to think about how your video will be received by someone with vision or hearing loss. Can the speaker in the video be more descriptive to help a blind person? Can you provide a sign language interpreter in the live stream, for example? You could also upload the video with captions as soon as possible after the event.
4. Keep words simple and clear
The average reading age in the UK is nine years old, so keep sentences and keep posts simple. Think about the fact that someone with memory loss might also read your post, or someone with learning needs or autism might also read it. Your words will be more widely understood if you’re as clear and direct as possible. You can check the reading age of your text here. Keep acronyms to a minimum, write words in full and avoid abbreviations.
5. Check colour contrast on images, animated GIFs and infographics
Be aware that about 2.7 million people in the UK alone are colour blind. Therefore any infographics and images, particularly those with text included in them, should be well colour contrasted to be more clear - this is a requirement under Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. There are free colour contrast checkers online, such as this one.