Blind and partially sighted people will probably have their own ways of making social media accessible on various devices. These include, but are not limited to:
- Magnification software; (Zoom on Apple products, such as an iPad, iPhone or iMac, SuperNovaon a PC or laptop, or other additional magnification on Android devices).
- Text-to-speech software; often referred to as screen readers (VoiceOver for Apple products, SuperNova for a PC or laptop, or TalkBack on selected Android devices.
- Other accessibility add-ons or features such as: 3Dtouch/AssistiveTouch(the keys used to input text, as well as/or hand gestures/movements can be customised and become easier to distinguish by feel on a touch-screen), braille displays(connected to the device, they translate on-screen information into braille, also allowing for input from braille display to device) and/or vibrate settings (vibrating with different frequencies for different icons etc.).
- For more information on these, you can always do your own research – the ‘Accessibility’ section of the Apple websitewill tell you more, as will Google!
Remember to include image descriptions. Describing photos for people who are blind or partially sighted is really important, allowing them to build up a mental picture of what someone who is sighted is seeing automatically. You don’t have to describe every single detail in an image description – just pick out a few key ones! Think about which details are most important.
Example: Sophie, who has long brown hair and glasses on, is sitting on a bench in a park. It’s lovely and sunny and she’s grinning broadly!
There are different ways to do this on each platform:
- On Facebook, you need to include a description in the text of your post. Write your post first and then tag the description onto the end of the post. Put your image description in brackets, separating it from the rest of the post.
- On Instagram, you firstly need to upload your photo and then once you’ve uploaded and applied any filters/effects, you need to write the image description in the caption which accompanies the image. Take the same principle as with Facebook, putting the image description at the end of the post, and including brackets.
- On Twitter, you can add image descriptions to an image, saving you crucial time – and characters! You need to activate the image descriptions feature to use it. Here are the steps:
- Turn on ‘image descriptions’ in ‘Twitter Settings’. You’ll find the feature under the ‘Accessibility’
- When you upload a photo, you’ll see a prompt below it which says ‘describe this image.’ Please do!Use the advice above to compose it – you can also run it by a colleague if you’re unsure!
Don’t panic! It’s easier than you think to make videos accessible to blind and partially sighted people!
Videos don’t need to be audio-described, as long as they are audio-led.This means that the audio must be as important as what’s on screen – the video should be convey exactly the same message both audibly and visually – if it doesn’t, don’t share it!It won’t be accessible.
Videos should have subtitles where possible, to make them fully accessible.
On Instagramand Twitter, if the video doesn’t have subtitles already added, it can be difficult to add these but there are workarounds if you’d like to explore them yourself – again, Google is your friend here!
There are time limits when uploading videos (up to a minute for Instagram and up to 2 minutes 21 seconds on Twitter). With these platforms, you can download the video to your device and then upload straight to the platform. For Facebook, there’s no time limit but it’s with remembering that videos 2 minutes or under in length tend to perform best.
For Facebook, here’s how you add subtitles and upload a video:
- Login to YouTube and upload your video. If it’s already uploaded – great! You can skip this step.
- Once your video is uploaded (or you’ve found your video under ‘creator studio and clicked the ‘edit’ tab), you’ll then see a tab called ‘advanced settings.’ Click on this.
- In ‘Advanced settings’ you’ll see ‘Subtitles and CC.’ Click on this – you can then add subtitles to your video. There is a function called ‘automatic subtitles’ but beware! These aren’t always as accurate as they could be, so do double-check and amend where needed. In some cases, it might be easier to manually add in the correct subtitles yourself.
- You need to make sure timings of the subtitles are fairly consistent with the audio, so they can be followed easily but they don’t have to be perfect! You can use the sliders or the timings boxes to edit the positioning until you’re happy.
- Once you’ve uploaded the subtitles to your video, you need to download the .SRT file, which you’ll find on YouTube. When your subtitles are uploaded, you’ll see that under the ‘published’ tab (in ‘edit – follow steps 1-3 if you’re unsure how to get back there!), a button which reads ‘English.’ Select this, then ‘Actions’ and then ‘SRT.’ This will then download the file to your device.
- Great news – you’re almost there! Once you’ve added your subtitles, download your video to your device.
- Remember to download both the subtitled version of the video and your .SRT file!
- Rename the .SRT file before uploading. Call it .en_UK.srt. This is so that Facebook recognises it!
- Upload your video to Facebook and include your newly named .en_UK_srt file. To do this, select ‘language’ and then ‘upload subtitles.’
- Finally – you’ve done it! Write your post to accompany the video, and you’re ready for action!
- When you’re using hashtags, always capitalise the first letter of every word in the hashtag (for example #SensingCulture.) This means that the words in the hashtag are read out correctly by screen readers, and also makes them easier to read for everybody else!
- Check regularly for new accessibility features on the relevant platform(s) you use. Googling ‘(platform) +accessibility’ is a good place to start. This means you’ll be kept up-to-date on all the latest on accessibility features! You could set up a Google alert to your email address if you’re really keen!
Credit: RNIBAll resources