Accessibility on Social Media
It is important to make sure Carleton-related content is fully accessible to the entire Carleton community. Making your social content accessible not only aligns with Carleton’s IDE (inclusion, diversity, and equity) values and goals, it is legally necessary under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. It’s also just the right thing to do!
Videos with speaking or lyrics should always include captions for accessibility. Please see the YouTube and Video Captioning page for more information and instructions.
- If you are making an Instagram Reel or a TikTok, there are automatic captioning functions available. This is very useful, but you will have to edit the captions to make sure they are accurate before posting.
Use correct punctuation and capitalization throughout your text, so screen readers know when to pause, start, or stop. This also allows those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia to parse content easier.
Save emojis for the end of your post, so they don’t interrupt words or sentences.
Always use CamelCase in your hashtags and usernames for readability. This means starting each new word in a hashtag or username with a capital letter, e.g. @CarletonCollege or #EnglishDepartmentPicnic
- Unfortunately, a few platforms don’t allow CamelCase in usernames—just do it whenever possible.
Include “alt text” for every photo you upload as a main post on all social platforms. This is primarily for blind and visually impaired followers, as they may use screen readers to access content.
Alt text is just a plain-language description of the image you are uploading. Be as objective, accurate and brief as possible while still being thorough (you don’t need to include every tiny detail, just enough for someone to fully understand what you’re describing).
- An example of alt text: “Three students walk across the Bald Spot on a sunny spring day.”
Guidelines for writing alt text
Proper names/nouns are okay to include if they provide important context, e.g. the name of a building on campus (“A student sits at a picnic table outside of Sayles-Hill.”) or the name of a well-known figure (“Dean Carolyn Livingston hands out shirts to students in front of the Weitz.”).
You do not need to include races, genders, etc. in alt text unless it is thematically relevant (e.g. the post depicts a faculty member giving a talk about their gender or racial identity).
Generally, stick to gender neutral pronouns and “person/people” instead of “man” or “woman,” especially if you don’t personally know whoever is in the image.
You do not need to include “photo of” or “image of” at the beginning of your alt text. The screen reader knows it is a photo, video, etc.
- An exception to this guideline is if the post includes a graphic or collage, because the inclusion of that information would be useful to make sure a screen reader has the full context (e.g. “A collage of five photos of alumni hugging from Carleton Reunion 2022.”)
- Other useful information to include for context could be the color of the photo (e.g. it’s black and white or sepia toned) or the angle of it (e.g. it’s an aerial drone shot, fisheye lens shot, a very wide shot, etc.)
Putting abbreviations in your alt text is usually not recommended, but Carls love a good abbreviation, so it will often be necessary.
- If it is an initialism (pronounced as individual letters, like FDA), type periods between the letters so a screen reader will pronounce it correctly (e.g. “A student locks their bike up outside the C.M.C.”).
- If it is a true acronym (pronounced as a word, like NASA), you can spell it out without punctuation (e.g. “Two students sit in the waiting room at SHAC.”).
Do not include links, jokes, opinions, flowery language, emojis, hashtags, random keywords, photographer credits, etc. in your alt text. Basically, do not include any nonessential information.
Guidelines for images
Try not to upload text-heavy flyers or posters as main feed posts. Instead, create simple graphics with a fun illustration or a related photo (e.g. Carleton students having fun at a similar event), that has only the title of the event and the date, time, and location on it. Include all necessary information (including title, date, time, location, sponsor department names if necessary, etc.) in the caption.
- To create graphics, we recommend using Canva. It is fairly intuitive and even the free version has good resources. Please visit the Carleton user guide for help setting up and the option to join our paid professional account.
- If you only have a text-heavy flyer or poster available to post, just make sure to include all necessary information in the caption or alt text.
- Entering this information in both the caption and alt text is not necessary. You do not need to repeat the same information—and in this situation, prioritize the caption, which everyone goes to first.
- Do not include QR codes in your graphics for social media! They work great for physical posters and digital signage around campus, but not for social media content. Most people look at social media on their phones and therefore will not be able to scan the codes with said phones. If you’re designing a poster with a QR code, just make another, slightly altered version without the code and post that on your social media, with a link in your bio or story for Instagram, and a link in the body of the post for all other platforms.
- Looking for photos to use on social media instead of flyers? Carleton has many photos you can use in Imagen, our photo and video storage site! Just search for the topic you need photos of, such as “Commencement” or “New Student Week.” Make sure if the photographer is listed as a student in Imagen, you credit them in your caption and include their class year. Please read our full set of instructions for how to log in to Imagen and start downloading.
- When uploading a photo, scroll down and tap “advanced settings,” then “write alt text.”
- When uploading a photo on desktop, click the “edit” button in the top left corner of the image, then “alternative text.”
- When uploading on mobile, tap the three dots in the top right corner of the image, then “edit alt text.”
- When uploading a photo on desktop, click “add description” directly below the image.
- When uploading on mobile, tap “+ALT” in the bottom right corner of the image.
- When uploading a photo on desktop, click “Alt. text” directly below the image.
- When uploading on mobile, tap “ALT” directly below the image.