Are you taking extra measures to ensure your content is accessible to everyone?

If not, or you’re unsure what that means, you’ll want to read this #ContentWritingChat recap.

Digital accessibility isn’t something that’s optional for online brands today. It’s essential.

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Digital Accessibility Best Practices for Social Media with Alexa Heinrich

Our guest host for this week’s chat was Alexa Heinrich, who is a digital accessibility advocate. Digital accessibility has become an even more prevalent topic in recent times, as many brands are striving to make their content more inclusive by being accessible to everyone in their online community. As content creators here at Express Writers, we felt it was a crucial conversation to have during #ContentWritingChat and Alexa shared some amazing wisdom with us.

Let’s dive into the recap to learn where we can all make accessibility improvements.

Q1: What do you mean by digital accessibility?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand what exactly digital accessibility means so we can see why it’s such an important thing for our brands. Here are some great answers:

Alexa is spot-on with her answer. Digital accessibility is about making sure your content can be accessed, understood, and enjoyed by anyone. It should never be inaccessible to someone based on their physical or cognitive abilities.

Asking yourself the questions that Rachel shared in her answer is a good place to get started. Do your videos have captions so they can be watched by those with a hearing impairment? Is it actually easy to read the font you’re using on your website or graphics you share on social media? These are things that, unfortunately, many of us overlook.

Essentially, you want to take steps to remove any barriers that someone may encounter when trying to consume your content. Put yourself in another person’s shoes and ask if they’d be able to enjoy what you’ve shared.

Q2: Why is it important for your digital content to be accessible?

By now, the answer to this question may be pretty obvious. However, here are some good reasons why accessibility needs to be at the top of your priority list:

As Alexa pointed out, there are a lot of people with sensory impairments. As a result, they may not be able to consume your content if you haven’t implemented certain measures to make it easy for them to do so.

Alexa went on to point out that not all disabilities are visible to the general public, nor are they all permanent. For many people, they don’t discuss their disabilities, which means you may not even be aware of them. Plus, you never know when a loyal member of your community may experience something that leaves them temporarily disabled. By creating accessible content, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that they’ll still be able to consume what you share online.

At the end of the day, creating accessible content can help you expand your reach to a much wider audience since you aren’t excluding anyone. This can lead to more brand advocates and an increase in sales for your business.

Carla felt the same way. You have more opportunities to generate sales and it’s also easier to get people to take that next step when you’ve created more inclusive content. And like she said, everyone deserves to be treated fairly, so you don’t want to ignore those who are differently abled than you.

Carrie knows that without implementing digital accessibility practices, you’re ultimately limiting your reach and your impact online. That’s something no brand wants!

When you take the time to make your content accessible in multiple ways, you’re going to reach an even bigger audience than you thought possible.

Q3: What are some ways to create accessible content on social media?

To ensure your social media content is accessible to the masses, keep these tips in mind:

For starters, Alexa suggests changing the way you type your hashtags. Many of us are guilty of writing our hashtags in all lowercase, when they should be in Camel Case. That’s when you would capitalize the first letter of every new word in the hashtag. It makes it easier for screen readers to decipher. For example, #ContentWritingChat is written in Camel Case.

Alexa also said to be mindful about emoji placement. They’re better at the end of your post. Captions should always be added on videos. And don’t forget to include alt text as well.

Manisha also mentioned adding alt text to images shared on social media, while also captioning videos, and using legible fonts. Another important point that she brought up is checking to make sure your content is easily accessible on a variety of devices, from desktop to mobile to tablet.

How many times have you seen a graphic on social media that was difficult to read because of the contrast between the text and the background? Unfortunately, it happens. Those who already have difficulty seeing will have even more trouble making out what your graphics say if you aren’t careful. Be mindful of this when designing.

Rachel also said to allow people to zoom into images, use legible fonts, and consider increasing the size of your text.

Carla suggests taking one piece of content and turning it into multiple formats. For instance, she incorporates both text and video into her blog posts. And she also makes sure to add captions to all of her standalone and livestream videos, meaning they can be enjoyed with or without sound.

Q4: Can you elaborate on writing alt text? What makes for good alt text?

If you know anything about SEO, then you’ve probably heard about alt text. While it can be helpful when trying to rank your content in search engines, it’s more beneficial for those with vision impairments. Here’s what you need to know when writing it:

As Alexa shared, the whole point of alt text is to write a description of the image. This way, someone who isn’t able to actually see it (or if it doesn’t load for some reason), the person consuming your content will know what it’s an image of.

She also shared that it’s wise to include any copy that’s on the image within the alt text. Then, there will never be any confusion about what your image contains.

This is a great example of a descriptive piece of alt text. Keep Rachel’s advice in mind!

If you really want to test the effectiveness of your alt text, close your eyes and envision the exact description you’ve written to see if it creates a clear picture in the mind.

Q5: What are some ways to use emojis in content so they don’t cause accessibility issues?

Who would have thought that cute emojis could create a problem when it comes to digital accessibility? Unfortunately, it’s true. And you may want to start rethinking emoji placement after reading this:

To ensure your content is accessible, Alexa advises placing emojis at the end of your social media posts. Otherwise, it can be rather confusing when screen readers are reciting the text from your post.

As you can see in her tweet above, the way a screen reader would translate the text with an emoji in the middle of a sentence isn’t user-friendly. It may come across very confusing to someone who isn’t able to see the post for themselves.

Alexa’s tip is to check out Emojipedia if you want to learn more about the descriptions of emojis. This will help you understand what someone may hear when using a screen reader to consume your content.

Carla is on the same page as Alexa and suggests avoiding putting emojis in the middle of a sentence. Keep them at the beginning or the end so you don’t disrupt the flow.

Q6: Are there any apps or programs you would recommend for captioning videos?

Captioning your social media videos does’t have to be such a chore. In fact, there are a number of tools that can make this process much easier. Here are some to check out:

When possible, take advantage of the built-in caption feature that many platforms offer. For instance, Alexa uses YouTube’s automatically generated captions. However, we know they typically make a few mistakes, so it’s worth going in and manually making edits for clarity.

Another option is to upload captions via an SRT file. If you’re posting a video on YouTube, you can download the captions and then use it when publishing to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Alexa also recommends trying Mix Captions as a tool to make the process easier.

Carla typically relies on the built-in caption feature that many platforms have. She just makes sure to take the time to edit them before publishing. It’s great to see so many brands implementing this feature and making it easier for brands to incorporate captions.

Q7: How can marketers get leadership on board with accessibility?

Now, the final task is getting the entire team to agree that digital accessibility is crucial. To help you with this, you’ll want to remember this advice:

As Alexa pointed out, being accessible is just good business at the end of the day. It’s going to have a positive impact on your marketing efforts, as you’ll be able to reach more people. Plus, you want to avoid any legal trouble down the line, which is why being accessible now can be helpful.

And ultimately, taking steps toward digital accessibility shows you care about your community. It shows that you’re aware of those who may have disabilities and that you want to serve them in the best way possible.

The final piece of advice is this tip from Lori. Please make sure you speak up. If there are ways your company can be more accessible, take the initiative and share your ideas for changing things.

Come hang out with us during the next #ContentWritingChat! We chat on the first Tuesday of every month at 10 AM Central. All you need to do is follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat for all the latest.

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