How to be accessible on Instagram
Add alternative text for images
Alt-text is a written description of an image that can be read by a screen reader for those who are visually impaired, and also is the text the displays when images aren’t loading properly. Instagram uses an AI to automatically generate alt text for the images you post, but it’s not always very descriptive or accurate…
So what should you do? Add your own of course! The next time you post to your Instagram feed, be sure to click “Advanced Settings” at the bottom of the screen and then “Write Alt-Text.”
When writing alt text, make sure what you’re writing is relevant and detailed. Ex: “Girl stands in front of brick wall with right foot lifted in the air as she looks at the camera and smiles” paints a better image than “Girl by wall smiling.”
Add image descriptions
Sometimes people don’t use a screen reader when scrolling through Instagram, so adding an image description to your caption is a great way to make sure everyone can enjoy your content. The same type of text you’d add under alt text, you can add to the end of your caption. If you want to break it up from the caption, add “Image Description” beforehand.
Add subtitles to Instagram Stories and Videos
With the helpful “caption” button on Instagram Stories, there’s really no excuse to not use subtitles on your Stories. Not only that, but 85% of video on Facebook is watched WITHOUT sound, so you’re alienating a large part of your audience by not adding text.
It’s a privilege to not provide captions and without them, you’re not allowing a large portion of Instagram to be able to watch your videos.
Describe Visual Details During Stories and Videos
Instagram Stories and Videos are one of the most challenging areas of Instagram for those who are visually impaired. It’s an almost impossible tool for them to navigate and according to users, the screen reader voiceover doesn’t work on stories at all.
To help those who are visually impaired be able to participate in your story, describe the scene! Give details on what you’re holding! Explain who is joining you on the live! While describing the scene you’re in can feel a bit awkward at first, the more you do it, the easier it’ll become! Plus, you’ll be accessible to everyone who wants to enjoy your content!
We all know that hashtags are a HUGE part of being found on Instagram (do we talk about hashtags enough here?? Not sure??). But something you might not have known is by capitalizing each word of the hashtag, it makes them more accessible to the blind community! Accessibility screen readers will be able to correctly read out the hashtags if each word is capitalized. If you don’t, it tries to read the hashtag as one big long word and that can be incredibly confusing!
Limit the use of emojis
I know. I know. This is a hard one for us to hear as well. However, when a screen reader reads emojis, they read the title of each emoji out loud—no matter how many emojis there are. Now imagine sitting there listening to “joy, joy, joy, apple, apple, joy, joy, joy” endlessly because someone decided to make their entire caption emojis.
Instead of completely forgoing emojis (we’d never ask that!), perhaps think if 52 emojis in a row of ducks is actually worth someone sitting through listening to that.
Add video descriptions
Even if your video has subtitles, be sure to also add a short description of the video if it’s more than a few minutes long.
Use color contrast
For those that are color blind when watching your stories, be sure to use color contrast for any text that is overlaying on your image.
Being able to provide accessible Instagram content will help improve usability for all users. Even if you don’t have a hearing impairment, being able to watch a video with subtitles that you can’t listen to as you’re pretending to be working (oh, hey, not talking about me at all) is beneficial to all. While this may all feel overwhelming at first, the more you do it and the more accessible you are, the easier it will all become! Plus, you’ll be helping make Instagram a more usable platform for everyone.