As influencers, we are in this space because we want to make connections with people; but for those who have disabilities, there are many invisible barriers that are the result of inaccessible content.
Accessibility is the process of providing access for all, with the main beneficiaries being those with disabilities.
Approximately 20% of the population identifies as having a physical or cognitive disability or impairment, and that group includes many who are also part of other marginalized communities.
If we have a goal of becoming more inclusive through our actions and in the space where we work, a crucial part of that is making our content more accessible.
A phrase I often repeat is “accessibility is a mindset, not a checklist,” because that emphasizes planning your content with accessibility in mind, rather than trying to find ways to make it fit in at the end.
That said, having a list to refer to on how to make your content more accessible is incredibly helpful when you are getting started.
7 Ways You Can Start Making Your Content More Accessible
1. Always include alternative text or image descriptions with your photos. Providing a text description of your images allows people who rely on screen readers to know what the image contains. This is particularly important if you are sharing a graphic that includes a lot of informative text or resources.
2. When using hashtags, write them in CamelCase – which is when you capitalize the first letter of each word within the hashtag. The capital letters indicate to a screen reader that the hashtag includes several words and reads them individually. It can also make the intended meaning of the hashtag clearer for people who are sighted as well.
3. Provide captions, transcripts, and/or descriptions of your videos and audio files. In addition to presenting information to those with hearing impairments, it can also serve as a content warning for those who may want to avoid videos or audio files depicting certain situations.
4. On social media, particularly Twitter and Instagram, avoid the urge to use external font generators to style your text. Using font styles that are not native to these platforms makes the text unreadable to screen readers. That means any words used in those styles will be left out of your posts, which could potentially change the message you are communicating entirely.
5. When designing elements for your website or social media, take careful consideration of your color and font choices. Not having enough contrast between the background and text color or font sizes that are too small, can make it difficult to read for people who have certain visual or cognitive impairments.
6. Be cognizant when re-sharing content others have created, those creators may not have included alt-text, captions, or context to help others understand what it contains. When sharing someone else’s content or images on your own account, always provide the same descriptive elements that you would include in the content you create for your audience.
7. Avoid using ableist language. This includes many common words and phrases that use disabilities as a way of identifying something perceived to be wrong or outside what is accepted as the norm. Examples: Turning a blind eye, falling on deaf ears, crippled by debt, driving yourself crazy. Even though when people use these phrases it is usually just as a filler, and not done so to intentionally target someone who is disabled, it normalizes devaluing them as a person because of their condition.
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