Accessibility on Social Media

Posted on Posted in Technology

Vision Loss

Globally 1.3 billion people have some visual impairment. Out of those 1.3 billion, 217 million have moderate to severe visual impairment. 36 million are blind.
Refractive errors and cataracts are the most common reasons for vision loss. Visual impairment rates are also affected by the globally rising living expectancy.

Main assistive technology

Screen readers: Screen readers translate contents into speech. These do not only read the text out loud, but also assets like images, hashtags, links etc.
Voice interfaces: Voice interfaces or conversational interfaces like Alexa or Google Home are circumventing the regular, visually based interfaces.
Braille devices: Refreshable brail displays converts text and assets into brail instead of speech.
Link to full wiki

Hearing loss

1.33 billion people experience hearing impairment. 360-538 million have some hearing loss, while 124 million suffer moderate to severe hearing loss.
The frequency of hearing loss is between 3 in 1000 and 6 in 1000 depending on country. Albeit some are born deaf, age is also a factor here. 54% of the affected population is 44+.

Main assistive technology

Subtitled video assets: Subtitles on videos are the most well-known assistive technology. While people born deaf can learn to read lips, but it is not common among those affected by age-related hearing loss. That’s why subtitles are important.
Speech to text software: In cases where the sender of the video assets does not include subtitles, there are different options for deaf users to use software to instantly create subtitles based on audio. They’re not always great.. Try pressing the “CC” button on a Youtube video.
Link to full wiki

Copywriting & formatting

Limit the use of hashtags, tags and links within the text for a less confusing screen reading experience and overall higher legibility/readability. Capitalize every word in a hashtag so the screen reader can recognize the individual words used. Avoid abbreviations that are not explained or well-known.
Describe where a link leads (e.g. “read more here” or “watch the video here” or “download pdf here”) or put the file type in [brackets] before. Avoid uncommon abbreviations and acronyms as screen readers will not recognize them.
You can test with a screen reader here


Did you know that it is possible on most major social networks to add “alternative text” or image descriptions to an image? In that case the text will be read by the screen reader. It only takes a few seconds and also improves searchability!
Guide to alternative text on Twitter
Guide to alternative text on Instagram
Guide to alternative text on Facebook
Guide to alternative text on LinkedIn


Subtitles do not only improve videos for the deaf community. Many studies indicate that users watch videos without sound and that subtitles improve number of views and watch time on social.
Did you know that subtitles can be automatically made from speech recognition?
Speech Recognition Apps
Link to Cliptomatic for Instagram Stories