Is your Disney Instagram as accessible as it could be? Or are you unintentionally preventing certain people from being able to enjoy your content? The following tips will help you bring the magic to as many people as possible and increase your engagement rates.
You Don’t Have to See It to Believe It
Instagram is primarily a visual platform, which makes it very difficult for the 285 million people worldwide who are blind or visually impaired to fully engage with your content.
In order to access visual content, many people with visual impairments rely on a screen reader. To test out how a screen reader parses your content, turn on VoiceOver (on iOS) or TalkBack (on Android), then double-click on your Instagram photos or captions. As of writing this, image-based Instagram stories are functionally un-usable for screen readers.
Here’s some tips for how to make your Instagram content more accessible for the visually impaired.
1. Include descriptions on all images.
Alternative text allows you to describe an image. Instagram has recently started automatically generating alternative text but in its initial stages, this function is limited to descriptions like “One person standing outside” or “Maybe a dog.” Include any visual details that are relevant for the point of your post.
For photos of people, you might include details on what they’re wearing, how and where they’re posing, or identifiers about whoever is in the photo that you want to highlight (e.g., women of color).
To add alternative text to a new post, click on Advanced Settings underneath where you would write a caption. Then scroll to the bottom and click on “Write Alt Text.” Enter your text and click “Done” in the upper right-hand corner when you are ready.
To add alternative text to an existing post, click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner when viewing the post you want to modify. Then click, “Edit.” Once you are in edit mode, scroll up to the image and click on where it says “Edit Alt Text” with a circle with Aa in it. Add your text and then click done in the upper right hand corner.
2. Write #HashtagsInCamelCase and at the end of a post
Screen readers aren’t always the best at parsing words in long hashtags or words without spaces. For example, the screen reader says my username is “thef-d-princess” instead of “the-P-H-D-princess.” You can fix this problem by using CamelCase where every word is capitalized.
Including hashtags at the end of your post will make it easier for the blind and visually impaired to get the gist of your post without being turned away by hearing “hashtag” every third word.
3. Fancy fonts? I wouldn’t, it disrupts screen reader functionality and that’s not good.
Dr. Seeker references aside, fancy fonts are gibberish for screen readers, which will announce the font before every single letter. See below for an example from Twitter and Instagram.
Additionally, certain fonts are much harder for people with dyslexia to read. To make your posts and stories more dyslexia-friendly, avoid italics, cursive, underlining, all caps, and serif fonts like Instagram’s Typewriter option.
4. Use fewer emojis to increase readability
For sighted people, emojis may add humor or feeling, but they can get annoying when using a screen reader. Avoid using multiple emojis in a row or putting them in the middle of a word, so you can get your message across quickly.
5. Increase your color contrast
Using more distinct colors in your posts and stories will help people with limited vision and color blindness see what you have to offer.
Oftentimes, on Instagram stories, when you add a highlight to the text, the text itself will be white or some other color that doesn’t contrast enough with the highlight. You can change the text color by selecting it and then picking a new color for it without changing the highlight color.
You can check whether different color combinations pass an accessible threshold on sites like WebAim or by removing all saturation from an image. Avoid colors that are similarly light (e.g, all pastels) or dark.
Off-white backgrounds are also easier on the eyes of dyslexic folks than white backgrounds.
Get Your Ears On
Videos with sound are more accessible for people with visual impairments, but videos can cause difficulty for many other groups.
6. Caption all videos with sound
Videos without captions are inaccessible for people who are deaf (1 million Americans), hard of hearing (10 million Americans), or who just can’t have their volume on for whatever reason (a large portion of the rest of the population). Until Instagram automatically generates video captions, you can type your own on stories or use external apps like Clipomatic (for iOS) or AutoCap (for Android).
Unfortunately, Clipomatic currently only works with videos you record in the app, but there is no way to load in pre-existing videos to caption them. Sometimes you also have to spend a couple extra seconds editing the words that Clipomatic gets wrong.
When you are captioning videos, still keep in mind the visible accessibility tips mentioned above!
7. Provide a warning for videos with overwhelming stimuli
Flashing lights or even GIFs that flash too fast can cause discomfort for people with autism or light-sensitive seizures. Loud noises aren’t just annoying but they can also be very overwhelming for people with auditory sensitivities.
So at the very least for all your fireworks videos, provide a heads-up to your followers in the form of a preceding story (ideally with both an audible and visible warning) or early on in a post caption.
Help Out the Community!
I’m not perfect at always following all of these tips, so feel free to call me out!
Which Disney Instagrammers are really good at making their content accessible? I want to know so I can give them props!
If you have any other questions or tips, leave them in the comments below!