Are You Reaching Your Entire Audience? Three Tips to Make Your Social Media Content More Accessible  

by Peyton Haley, Accessible Communications Coordinator at Oklahoma ABLE Tech 

Most people are on social media to share information and stay connected with others. As content creators, it’s our responsibility to make that information and connection available to everyone! To make sure you are including screen reader users, implement these tips as you develop your social media content in the future! 

Tip #1: Write alternative text 

Alternative text (alt text) is a written description that explains an image. Alt text is primarily needed by screen reader users, to provide them with the same information a person seeing the image (or graphic) would receive. Most platforms these days will generate alt text automatically. Unfortunately, the automatically generated alt text can’t detect the context of your images, so we recommend writing your own. These are the alt text guidelines I live by: 

  • Keep context in mind 
  • Don’t write more than 1-2 sentences 
  • Be objective 
Amy sits on the floor with a toddler in a Bumbo seat. The toddler is using a big yellow switch to activate a bubble machine that is blowing lots of bubbles into the image. Both people are smiling.

Here’s an example of alt text for this photo: Amy sits on the floor with a toddler in a Bumbo seat. The toddler is using a big yellow switch to activate a bubble machine that is blowing lots of bubbles into the image. Both people are smiling. 

It’s worth noting that each social media platform has different ways to add alt text. Remember: You’re choosing your images and graphics on social media strategically, which means they have meaning, so they should all have alt text. 

Tip #2: Keep graphics simple 

A simple graphic is not only more effective at grabbing your sighted audience’s attention, but also more accessible since all the text on a graphic should be included in the alt text 

I have a love-hate relationship with Canva, but I love it for this: anyone can use it, and the free tier is excellent. My caveat with recommending Canva, though, is you shouldn’t use Canva for any documents requiring heading structure. My team uses it strictly for social media graphics. 

Graphic with a dark purple background and light purple and white decorations. TechAccess Oklahoma 2023. Recorded sessions now available. Megaphone icon.The alt text for this graphic is: Graphic with a dark purple background and light purple and white decorations. TechAccess Oklahoma 2023. Recorded sessions now available. Megaphone icon. 

In this example, all the superimposed text is included in my alt text. Additionally, you shouldn’t include links on your graphics. Even if you include the link in your alt text, it won’t be a live link and won’t be clickable. Keep your links in your post copy, where people don’t have to memorize them, then go type them into a browser. If you’re an Instagram user, keep in mind, not even links in the post caption are live, and you should have some sort of link in bio situation. I have a whole soapbox about QR codes too, but that seems like a good topic for a future blog post. 

Tip #3: Prioritize your written content 

Content creators should only use the fonts and formatting options availableScreenshot of a tweet by the user @HashtagHeyAlexa that uses five different alternative character sets to spell the word lackadaisical five times. on the platforms they’re using. I know, I know, the italics and bolds and scripts in the screenshot to the right look cool (alt text: Screenshot of a tweet by the user @HashtagHeyAlexa that uses five different alternative character sets to spell the word lackadaisical five times), but they’re something called alternative characters and not all devices and platforms recognize them.  

If someone’s device didn’t read them, it’d be like listening to your favorite audiobook and suddenly, the dialogue skips a few lines. You know you’ve missed something, but you’re not quite sure what.  

Special characters can be tricky, but if you’re interested in a deeper dive, this article is a great starting point: How screen readers read special characters: an update. 

While we’re chatting about copy (an advertising and publishing word for written content), did you know every emoji has a description? Those descriptions are what a screen reader announces and sometimes, they can get lengthy. Because of that, you don’t want to use emojis as bullet points, accents around a word, or a bunch of emojis in sequence. That can be disruptive and annoying to screen reader users. Additionally, since simple is better, we recommend using the yellow variant of the emojis that have skin tone options. 

Emoji examples (and what a screen reader announces): 

  • 🤯 (exploding head) 
  • literally (sparkles literally sparkles) 
  • 🫶🏼 (heart hands: medium-light skin tone) vs. 🫶 (heart hands) 

Seems logical, right? Putting in a little extra effort during your drafting and editing process will be well worth it to make your social media content accessible to all! 

More Tips from the Team: 


Oklahoma ABLE Tech is Oklahoma’s Assistive Technology (AT) Act program. As part of the organization’s mission, the digital accessibility team offers training and technical assistance on topics related to digital accessibility, as well as accessibility evaluations of websites, web applications, and other types of digital content. To learn more about digital accessibility, you can visit the Digital Accessibility Program webpage or send an email to abt.a11y@okstate.edu.