Web accessibility has become the buzzword for website owners, entrepreneurs, and marketers across the globe. This is largely due to the growing number of web accessibility lawsuits being filed against global conglomerates.
From Netflix and Domino’s to Five Guys Enterprises and Winn-Dixie – many established brands have found themselves on the receiving end of such lawsuits. In fact, more than 2250 ADA Title III lawsuits were filed in federal court just in 2019. And it’s not just the global giants that are targeted.
In recent years, many startups and small businesses have also had to bear the brunt of such lawsuits. Needless to say, recuperating from the legal ramifications of these lawsuits can be extremely challenging for business owners.
That’s why webmasters and entrepreneurs are becoming increasingly cautious about implementing suitable measures to ensure that their websites are accessible to consumers with special needs and disabilities.
But in a world that lives and breathes on social media, making your website accessible isn’t enough. In this blog, we’ll explore whether social media posts come under the purview of web accessibility. We’ll also discuss a few useful techniques you can use to ensure social media accessibility.
Social Media & Web Accessibility: Understanding the Connection
First things first – Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it mandatory for businesses to adopt appropriate measures for accommodating individuals with any form of disability. This could include sensory impairment, such as blindness and deafness, mobility issues (permanent and temporary), as well as cognitive and learning disabilities.
Considering that the law was enacted way before the internet became mainstream, initially it was only applicable to physical business locations. It doesn’t explicitly mention any regulations for a company’s digital assets.
However, recent ADA Title III lawsuits have highlighted the fact that businesses are liable to make their websites and applications accessible to disabled individuals as well.
Thus, it has become legally mandatory for businesses to make their websites and mobile applications ADA compliant. However, the same doesn’t apply to other digital assets, such as the content you upload on social media.
It is, therefore, only natural to think why you should even bother about ensuring accessibility on social media. The simple reason is that in today’s internet-savvy world, your social media profiles are just an extension of your brand’s online identity.
To begin with, there are over 3.6 billion social media users in the world. Chances are you’re already using more than one social media channel to build brand awareness and recognition. Likewise, your target consumers are using social media to learn more about your products, as well as your brand values and ethics.
So, do you want to come across as a business that’s only using social media to promote its products? Or do you want to build a brand that values its customers and cares about them. If you’ve chosen the second option, prioritizing social media accessibility is a must.
This is especially crucial because a 2018 survey of Facebook users revealed that more than 30% of them struggle with one of the following disabilities:
- Visual impairment
- Hearing loss or deafness
- Mobility issues
- Cognitive disorders
If your social media posts aren’t accessible to such users, you’re going to miss out on a huge chunk of potential customers. Imagine the number of leads, sales, and conversions you could generate if you could strike a chord with this section of social media users!
It’ll even go a long way to reinforce your brand reputation and help you earn the trust and loyalty of your target demographic. Moreover, implementing social media accessibility will improve the overall quality of your content, thereby amplifying its reach and engagement.
Social Media Accessibility vs Web Accessibility
Fortunately, you can use AI-powered accessibility tools to automatically modify your website and make it more accessible.
The software scans your website for accessibility issues and automatically fixes them. It does things like add alt texts to images and make it compatible with assistive devices. These tools also periodically scans the websites to ensure that your website is always compatible with the latest ADA and WCAG guidelines.
The alternative approach to achieving this would be to hire a web developer who specializes in web accessibility to overhaul your website. However, that’s usually an unpopular choice because it’s time consuming and expensive.
accessiBe is one of the few companies leading the efforts to promote the importance of web accessibility and sharing latest innovations and news on how to be compliant. Following accessiBe’s twitter feed offers an easy way to educate yourself on the latest web accessibility challenges and the emerging technologies geared towards solving them.
Achieving total social media accessibility is not in your hands. Simply because you don’t have control over how Facebook or Twitter handle their accessibility challenges. However you can do a fair amount to make sure your posts are as accessible as possible.
You can only use suitable techniques to make your content accessible to users with physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Include captions and transcripts for any video and audio content you upload on social media.
- The transcripts/captions should be easily readable and descriptive; they should describe non-verbal cues, such as sound effects and music, as well.
- Avoid using convoluted sentences and obscure words in text-based posts.
- Capitalize the first alphabet of each word in a hashtag.
- Include hashtags and mentions at the end of a caption.
- Provide accurate, easy to understand, and descriptive alt texts for images.
- Use a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 when overlaying text on an image; also, layer the text on a plain and solid-colored background.
What techniques are you using to implement social media accessibility? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.