Let’s start with videos since we use video so often on social media. While not all videos require captioning at Duke, in order for us to share videos on our main Duke channels, including social media, videos do need to be captioned.
The easiest way to caption your videos is in YouTube. YouTube allows you to upload a text file or transcribe your file in real-time, and then it auto-times the captions for you and makes an .srt file. You can use that same .srt file on pretty much every platform that allows captioning, including Facebook and Twitter (although on Twitter, you need to use Media Studio).
If your video is longer than a few minutes, you can use an OIT-vetted captioning service to outsource the captioning. For livestreaming, we’ve also typically outsourced captioning.
The other main part of making social media accessible is adding alt tags to your images. Alt tags give alternate text to describe an image. If your websites are accessible, you’re using alt tags there already. Now, many social media platforms also give us the opportunity to insert alt tags for images.
On Facebook, every time you upload an image, there’s an option to edit your photo and add alt text:
You can even go back and edit photos you’ve already posted to include alt text.
On Instagram, the idea is the same. You can edit the photo to add alt text.
As with Facebook, you can go back and edit images you’ve already posted to add alt text.
Twitter allows you to add alt text as well, as you are posting. You do need to turn on the option first, though.
Unfortunately, as with all Twitter posts, you cannot go back and edit them later, including going back to edit or add alt text.
If you’re doing a lot of social media, you’re probably scheduling your content. You can schedule natively in Facebook, including adding the alt text, but what about the other platforms?
We haven’t found a great scheduler for Instagram that includes all of Instagram’s features, like alt text and location tagging. Luckily, if you have a scheduler you like, you can continue to use it and just add the alt text after you’ve posted.
For Twitter, we’ve been told that Sprout includes accessibility options. In UComms, we’re using Buffer for Twitter scheduling, which does allow us to add alt text. Without a scheduler that allows alt tagging, Twitter is really hard to manage and make accessible. There’s no native scheduler in Twitter and no way to edit old Twitter posts.
Hacks to Make Things Easier
Not everything has to be alt tagged! If, for example, you’re posting a link on Facebook or Twitter, the “card” that comes with that link does not need an extra alt tag.
If your website is set up with the proper OpenGraph tagging for Facebook and Twitter, you should be all set and not even have to worry about uploading a separate image for your tweet or post. (Your webmaster can help you with this!) If you want to see a preview of what your link or anyone else’s link will look like on Twitter, you can try the Twitter card validator.
More on Accessibility
There’s a whole website at Duke dedicated to accessibility, so I encourage you to dig into that if you have more questions about what you should be doing, what you’re required to be doing, and how to implement changes in your processes. Also, please feel free to reach out to me (Sonja Likness) about social media accessibility or Joel Crawford-Smith at Duke about your other Duke accessibility-related questions. We’d be happy to help!
And, BONUS: Joel and I recently did a Learn IT @Lunch about accessibility.