5 Ways to Make Your Instagram Account More Accessible Right Now
Having an accessible Instagram account isn’t just the right thing to do, it can also improve your engagement and strengthen the sense of community on your channel.
And it’s easier to do than you might think.
Here are 5 easy ways to make your Instagram account more accessible right now:
Why Should You Make Your Instagram Account Accessible?
Often, we think of accessibility as a physical concept, like entering a building or climbing stairs.
But accessibility is just as important in the digital world — especially for those with visual and hearing conditions.
Hermon and Heroda, founders of @Being__Her, advocate for accessibility and equality.
“There are 466 million people in the world that are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and accessibility in the world — Instagram in particular — is a big problem,” they share.
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Young people are going growing up in a world where they feel under pressure at school, bullying, body images and online culture. We believe that Being Her gives young people the best possible start in life. We are proud to help the younger generation be it African, deaf or any other denomination. . We want to encourage them to believe in themselves, achieve their goals in the future. There are so few role models for deaf people, we really want to be there, to be able to support people, so that they can look up to somebody and think, ‘oh yeah, in the future, I can do that, I can achieve my dreams. . Young people need every bit of help, support and empowerment they can get, without helping them, they can easily get lost. It’s important to open yourself to the community around you. It can help you grow and expand yourself and your business or career goals. It’s important to connect your experiences with the community and they shouldn’t be afraid to use their voice. 💫 #beingher
The twin sisters set up their own platform to make sure their voices were represented, and have been pushing to change the negative stereotypes and attitudes in regard to deafness ever since.
“Being Deaf is not the problem, it’s the barriers we face every day that are the problem,” Hermon and Heroda explain.
Similarly, visually impaired author and campaigner Dr. Amit Patel started his Instagram account, @blinddad_uk, to show people that “having a disability doesn’t hold you back from doing everyday things”.
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WHY HELLO THERE! 👋🏽👋🏽👋🏽 I seem to have accrued a few new followers this week (which may well be due to appearing on the wonderful @iamalisonperry’s podcast!) so I just wanted to say hello to you all & tell you a little bit about me – and I’d love for you to tell me more about you too! I’m Amit, a dad of two (a 4 year old boy & a 14 month old girl) I was a medical doctor & I live in SE London. Oh and I also happen to be blind. I lost my sight 7 years ago now, rather out of the blue. It’s too long a story to tell you here but I wrote a book about it (called Kika & Me, if you’re interested) so I guess that makes me an author too. I also do a bit of campaigning to help make the world around me more accessible, not just for visually impaired people but for everyone. I guess I use Twitter more for the heavier campaigning stuff, so for me Instagram is a bit of fun – lots of cheesy selfies of me and my gorgeous guide dog @kika_guidedog with the kids making guest appearances on occasion as we have a lot of fun during daddy day care a few days a week! I’m not ashamed to say that Kika has more followers on social media than me, across all platforms, but then she is cuter than me too. I should also add that Instagram’s not the most accessible platform so bear with me, my wife Seema helps me out with the stories, reels & messages – we’re learning as we go. Now, tell me about you? . . . #DrAmit #TeamPatel #MyCrew #fatherhoodrocks #fatherhoodunplugged #BlindDad #BlindParenting #DrAmit #daddingit #parenting #ukdadbloggers #dadtribe #dadsofinsta
“What I didn’t realize when I joined Instagram was just how tough it was going to be for me to navigate,” Dr. Patel highlights.
“Instagram is totally visual, so it’s not an easy platform to navigate when you’re visually impaired at all.”
However, as a brand or business, you can take steps to make your content more inclusive on Instagram.
And it doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. We’ve rounded up 5 ways that you can make your content more accessible right now so that more people can experience, enjoy, and engage with your content.
Instagram Accessibility Tip #1: Add Subtitles to Instagram Stories and Videos
We know that 85% of video on Facebook is watched without sound, so making your content digestible without audio is a no-brainer.
Not only are subtitles great for people who watch without sound, but they’re also essential for those with hearing difficulties too.
Describing how Instagram content feels for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, Hermon and Heroda explain that “People who can hear have the privilege of not providing captions, but we don’t. We have been asking for accessibility on Instagram, and we feel invisible and ignored.”
While we wait for future product enhancement for a fully accessible Instagram, there are some tools and features that can help businesses and social media managers create more inclusive content.
For example, Instagram released a new accessibility feature that will automatically add captions to IGTV videos in 16 languages.
Automatic captions, rolling out on IGTV today. 🙋♀️
Go to your settings and turn on video captions or find the option in the video drop-down menu.
Captions will be available in 16 languages to start. Stay tuned for updates as we expand to more surfaces and countries. pic.twitter.com/g3zBUBjCDr
— Instagram (@instagram) September 15, 2020
Threads is a camera and messaging app for keeping up with close friends on Instagram, but it also has a useful automated captioning tool.
You can generate captions directly as you record footage, or add them to pre-filmed video content from your camera roll.
Once you’ve finished, all you need to do is download the content and share it with your Instagram followers.
Note: Threads auto-captioning is only available in the US, and Instagram has yet to release information on a global rollout of the feature.
Alternatively, you can use a third-party app to auto-generate video captions, such as Clipomatic or CaptionMax, or manually add text overlays that summarize the key talking points of your video clips.
DESIGN TIP: Adding a solid background color to subtitles can make them easier to read, especially on mobile. Use an editing app like Prequel to choose from more font and colorway options for your brand!
Instagram Accessibility Tip #2: Provide Alt Text for Instagram Posts
Adding alt text to your Instagram posts is a great way to make your content more inclusive for those with sight loss.
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Hey! Let's make the internet a more inclusive place ☺️ Ever wondered what an image description is for? Or why it's so important for videos to have captions? Here's a 101 basic introduction to social media accessibility and why it matters, created with the brilliant @annieelainey (who's taught me a whole bunch about this stuff over the years!). Content creators: it's on us to make sure that we're not excluding an entire group of people from the things we put on the internet. Content consumers: it's also on us to advocate for accessibility in online spaces. We probably won't get it perfect every time (I don't), but we can try, because we really should care about leaving people behind. 💜 #TheFutureIsAccessible [Image description: a pink, blue, white and grey graphic slideshow of information, all text for each slide can be found in alt text]
For visually impaired users, Instagram is not an easy platform to navigate, explains Dr Amit Patel.
“It’s frustrating when you click on the post and all it tells you is that there is one image or two images and nothing else.
“Sometimes the caption text under a grid post has nothing to do with the image, so as a visually impaired user if there’s no alt text image description, I’m left out of the full experience,” he adds.
Alt text is essentially an invisible description that can be narrated through a screen reader device — so users can understand what’s happening in your content without being able to see it.
To manually add alt text to your Instagram posts, follow these quick and easy steps:
- Take a photo or upload an existing photo to Instagram
- Edit the image as required, then tap “Next”
- Select “Advanced Settings”
- Tap “Write Alt Text” under the “Accessibility” header
- Write your alt text in the box and tap “Done”
There are an estimated 285M people living with sight loss worldwide, so taking a few minutes to add some descriptive text to your Instagram images can go a long way.
Instagram does automatically generate some alt text using image recognition software, but this is often very basic and unreliable.
Adding your own alt text it’s a great way to add some of your brand’s personality — as well as providing valuable extra context — to the accessibility experience.
Instagram Accessibility Tip #3: Verbalize Visual Details During Stories and Videos
Instagram Stories and Live video broadcasts can be one of the most challenging formats to make accessible for members of your community who are Blind.
“Stories are absolutely impossible to navigate for me as a visually impaired user,” shares Dr Amit Patel.
“The screen reader voiceover doesn’t work on stories at all — it just goes a bit crazy like a malfunctioning 80s computer voice!”
Consider how your audio supports the viewing experience. For example, if you’re hosting an Instagram Live from a retail store, tell your audience. Start with a quick description of where you are, what you’re showcasing, and who else is joining you on the live.
Setting the scene this way may feel a bit unnatural at first, but you’ll soon notice that lots of broadcasters use this technique.
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The UK drinks over 100 million mugs of tea every day. But, is the humble cuppa hiding a source of plastic pollution? This experiment for the BBC found a number of big brands contained "non-biodegradable plastic which will probably survive in the environment for hundreds or thousands of Via: @bbcnews #bbcnews #Plastic #Tea #Pollution #Environment #bbcnews
Similarly, if you pin a comment or question to your Instagram Live feed, it’s a good idea to read it aloud. It may seem like a basic tip, but these little touches make for an easy-to-follow and inclusive experience.
Not sure where to start with Instagram Live? Check out our Step-by-Step Guide for Businesses and take your next broadcast to the next-level!
Instagram Accessibility Tip #4: Capitalize Each Word in Instagram Hashtags
Hashtags are an important part of the discovery experience on Instagram, and this quick tip makes them more accessible to the blind community.
By capitalizing each word, accessibility screen readers will be able to correctly read out your hashtags.
“If you don’t, screen readers will read the whole hashtag as one word,” explains Dr. Amit Patel.
By simply capitalizing each word, you’re taking steps to create an accessible Instagram account.
Instagram Accessibility Tip #5: Add Descriptive Details to Captions
Adding subtitles to your videos and alt text to your images is a great first step to make your posts more inclusive.
But if you’re looking to take your accessibility to the next level, you can use your Instagram captions to provide valuable extra information and context.
This is a great way to set the scene and fill in any unforeseen gaps — especially when it comes to video content.
For those with hearing loss, captions are a good opportunity to share extra details about the music or sounds in your video posts.
Sound is often used to set the tone in videos, so explaining the use of sound in your captions can create a much richer experience for all of your viewers.
If you’re not sure what to add to your caption to make it more inclusive, try watching your video with sound on but with your eyes closed, and then with your eyes open but the sound off. Can you easily follow everything that is happening?
If not, it’s time to get creative with your Instagram caption.
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Dropping the cane for a two handed trick. #skatefit Sponsors @zappos @electric @nixon – @nikesb @independenttrucks @bronsonspeedco @elementskateboards @ambutechcanes @mdv_clothing_ #videodescription for the #blind and #visuallyimpaired – Justin drops his cane to perform a hand stand while riding his skateboard. #handstand #skatelife #skateboardingisfun PS – thanks @madarsapse for the hand placement advice. 🎥 @addiefridy
These small changes to your workflow can have a positive effect on how individuals with visual or hearing difficulties experience and interact with your content.
“I’d urge brands to think about how they can work to make their brand more inclusive on Instagram — and reach a much broader audience as a result,” says Dr. Amit Patel.
As a brand, an accessible Instagram account can create a more inclusive space for everyone in your community. You have the power to make a difference.
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