If you’ve attended one of Carnegie Dartlet’s digital marketing workshops in the last couple of months, you know we spend time highlighting ways you can make your institution’s website ADA compliant. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle—colleges and universities should ensure their presence across different social media networks is also following ADA compliance best practices.
Just like we recommend ensuring your website photos are ADA compliant and accessible to all who visit your web pages, you want to make sure you’re doing the same for your Facebook photos. Adding text to your photos will help provide a visual description of the photo to anyone using a screen reader. Facebook offers easy-to-follow instructions on what to do when you’re adding a new photo to a Facebook post—just remember, you need to do this before you make the post live, as it’s currently not an option to add alt text to previously uploaded photos.
Are you also posting videos on your Facebook page? Providing closed captions for your videos will not only provide a better experience for Facebook users who are watching your videos with a screen reader, but also for anyone who has the sound off as their default on their computer or mobile device. There’s a couple of ways you can create closed captions:
- If the original video file has been uploaded to YouTube, YouTube can create an SRT file that you can export and upload to Facebook to accompany your video.
- If the original video isn’t on YouTube already, Facebook has a closed caption auto-generator tool.
In either case, make sure you preview the video with the captions added before you post anything live, as you may need to make a few minor tweaks to the captions that were produced. The technology is better than it was a short time ago, but it’s still not 100% accurate. Instructions on adding Facebook closed captions can be found here.
Instagram photos and videos
Even though Instagram is owned by Facebook, adding alt text and closed captions on Instagram is very different! There’s no official way to add alt text to Instagram photos—instead, you’ll need to use the main photo description area. Virginia Commonwealth University’s Instagram account is one that I’ve been following for a while now, and they do an amazing job at this.
If you’re posting videos to your Instagram account, you’ll need to upload a version that already has the closed captioning embedded—there is no way to add a separate SRT file or have captions generated directly in the platform.
When posting photos on Twitter, you’ll want to make sure you’re adding alt text to them, just like you would on Facebook or Instagram. The first step is to make sure you have the accessibility feature turned on for your Twitter account under “Settings and privacy.” Once you’ve turned on the “Compose image descriptions” feature, Twitter makes it easy to add alt text—you’ll see the black box that says “Add description” appear as soon as you choose the photo you want.
Like you need to do on Facebook, check to make sure your YouTube video’s closed captions are matching what’s being said. A full transcript of the video should also be added to the description section—this will provide an added benefit by making your videos more SEO friendly, which could possibly help your videos and channel rank higher organically on YouTube. If the video is more than 30 seconds in length, consider writing a partial description and providing a link to the full transcript instead.
If you want to learn more about social media best practices, we’re here to help. You can follow Erika on Twitter for additional higher education social media insight at @e_fields.