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Accessible Web Content: Social Media, Videos And Files

Accessible Web Content: Social Media, Videos And Files

Digital accessibility does not limit to websites alone. It applies to all content published online. Accessibility is something you need to take into account also with social media publications and online videos, as well as digitally shared files such as PDF publications.

In this article, we’ll go through the characteristics of accessibility in the various online contents. The article is based on our webinar on digital accessibility in May 2020. Feel free to download the webinar recording (in Finnish) free of charge.

If digital accessibility is still an unfamiliar subject to you, have a look at our article on “What is Web Accessibility: A Five-Point Guide”.

Accessible Social Media Content

Want to reach the whole of your audience and serve them with content they can comprehend? If so, then making sure your social media content is accessible, is vital.

In many countries, social media accessibility is required from a great number of organizations by law. But even if the law doesn’t concern you, it’s beneficial for both your readers and you, to have accessible social media content in offer.

Accesibility on social media is built similarly to accessibility in any web content:

  1. Make sure text is easy to understand: short-enough sentences and chapters, plain language vocabulary
  2. Use alternative texts (ALT texts) on images
    • add ALT text to an image as you download it to social media (or afterwards if needed)
    • see detailed instructions on adding ALT texts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn
  3. Use subtitles on videos or share the video also in text form (see more on video accessibility below)
  4. Prefer one-word hashtags
  5. If using hashtags that are made of multiple words, use initial capitalization, a.k.a. CamelCasing
    • this lets screen readers articulate the hashtag in a more understandable way
  6. Use emojis sparingly and place spaces between them
    • screen readers can interpret most emojis but you won’t want to go overboard with them

Remember to also publish all essential information on your company’s website. Social media shouldn’t be the only communication channel, as not all target groups necessarily have social media accounts.

Regarding social media, it’s also worthwhile to check the accessibility of any social media feeds on your website. Make sure, for example, that you can easily skip the feed with a keyboard or a screen reader if need be.

Accessible Web Content: Videos

Video is often a format that in itself improves accessibility. Videos make it possible to use assets like gestures and visual content to support the words. Many users can internalize the message on video at least as well if not better than from reading a text.

However, not even videos are automatically accessible to all. For example the hearing impaired won’t understand your spoken video message, unless it has captions. Same goes for users who can’t hear the video well due to background noise, or because they simply need or choose to mute the audio. Video accessibility can also suffer from low Wi-Fi that makes the video cut out.

When you post videos on your website or social media, consider the following:

  • Captions
    • use captions that cover both spoken word and other essential sounds, so as to give the same level of information you would get from hearing the audio
    • remember to point out who is speaking, if it’s not obvious from the visual
  • Transcipts
    • add a transcript i.e. a text version of your video
      • captions can in some cases be replaced by a transcript, but ideal would be to have both
    • in the transcript, include not only spoken word but also all other relevant details shown on the video
    • be sure to place the transcript close to the video

When planning and shooting the video, remember to also pay attention to things like visual contrast, file type and the platform you use for playing the video. Have a look at this checklist on creating accessible videos.

Accessibility Of PDF Files

At times, you see PDF files being published online. You may find a PDF menu on a restaurant’s web page, a PDF price list or even an entire publication such as a PDF magazine, a report or a guidebook. For theses files to be consumable for all target groups, they need to be made accessible.

It is possible to make PDF files technically accessible by certain definitions you make in Word, InDesign or Adobe Acrobat. This would include making sure the text is in a readable form and its structures such as titles, paragraphs and images are marked with appropriate tags.

However, the question is, are PDF files really the most user-friendly format for consuming content online? PDFs are mostly meant to be read as print, or at least from a big screen. Screen readers may repeat the content of an accessible PDF as well as the content of an accessible web page. For the human eye, however, reading a PDF inevitably requires zooming and scrolling the page up and down. This is especially the case for mobile users, who today form a large part of the online audience.

Digital accessibility is ultimately about the ease of use of digital services for all users groups. That’s why PDF files are rarely the best way to publish content online. Better strategy would be to publish that content as a web page or even as a separate site (on wider publications like magazines). Read our article on how to digitalize your publications in an accessible way.

Why You Should Pursue Digital Accessibility

As we can see from the above, publishing accessible web content requires taking many details into account.

It may take some effort to make your web content accessible. But in return it will bear fruit in the long run. By paying attention to the matter, you can make sure your contents are easy to understand for all of your audience. You won’t miss customers because they can’t understand what you’re saying or because they find your service difficult to use. Accessible content will inspire people to share it and keep returning to your channels.

We believe, that before long, accessibility is something web developers, designers and marketers will pursue by default. In the same way that accessibility in our physical environment, in any modern building, already is a standard. Accessibility makes your content easy to approach whether you’re the average Joe, or someone with permanent or temporary physical or cognitive disabilities.

Want Help With Improving Digital Accessibility?

If you have any doubts about the accessibility of your web content or wish to improve the accessibility of your website, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have successfully executed even large scale website renewals where the results comply with the WCAG standard. With our plugin, creating accessible web content such as digital publications, is a breeze.