Social media: hashtags and images

Social media posts rely on hashtags and images so it’s important to present them in a way that everyone can access. Access Central has two useful posts about digital accessibility: one about using CamelCase and the other is image descriptions. Of course, making online social media content accessible makes it easier for everyone to use.

CamelCase hashtags

A hashtag is a way to reach more audiences on social media, and most people use all lower case letters in their identifier. When the hashtag is multiple words strung together, it makes it difficult to read and interpret. For example, #universaldesignaustralia”. If this is written in CamelCase, it becomes #UniversalDesignAustralia”.

CamelCase is named after the way its capital letters protrude like a camel’s humps.

Camel Case helps people with vision impairment and people with dyslexia.

A graphic of a hashtag symbol with the word hashtag next to it. The background is deep blue and the text is white.

Using Camel Case shows consideration for readers especially people who use screen readers, and people who are neurodiverse. It makes technology more accessible for everyone.

Image descriptions

Images are an important part of social media posts, so it’s important that everyone has the chance to benefit from them. That means, people who are blind or have low vision need a text description of images. This is referred to as alt-text, or alternative text. Screen readers access the alt-text descriptions and read them out to the user.

The description of the image will depend on the purpose and context of where an image appears. For example, a photo on a dating app has a different context and purpose than that same photo on a book cover.

Some social media platforms prompt you to apply a description of your image when you upload it, which is a useful reminder.

Applying alt-text

Using examples, AxessLab has a useful guide on writing meaningful descriptions. The key is to keep it relevant and concise. A sighted person will glance a photo and it is that glance that you should try to convey.

Screenshots of text are also images and therefore all the text should be repeated in the alt text description. Avoid beginning the alt-text with “image of…” or “photo of”. The screen reader will say “image image of…” And remember to put a full stop at the end so the screen reader knows to complete the sentence. It makes for a more pleasant reading experience.

Descriptions of images are also picked up by search engines, so it is worth taking an extra minute to write a description. The AxessLab guide to alt-text is full of good tips.

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