A phone screen shows a folder of social media apps.

Making Your Social Media More Accessible

Author: Nicholas J. Hoekstra; Michelle S. Patterson

Chances are, you have engaged with social media sometime in the last several minutes. Estimates from 2020 indicate that the average adult spends more than 2 hours on social media every day! Platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok are great places for busy educators to connect, share ideas, and find resources. They also help build networks and keep faculty up to date through popular hashtags such as #UDL, #UDLChat, #edChat, and #edTech.

What you may not realize is that the content you share may not always be accessible or engaging to your audience. Persons with disabilities make up over 15% of the world’s population. This includes many users of social media. Unfortunately, statistics show that individuals with disabilities are most likely to just leave a website when they find the content to be inaccessible. We also know that variability is the rule rather than the exception. So, think about how your social media might have the greatest reach.

While we often think about how to integrate the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) within our personnel preparation classes, these same principles can also help your social media reach. No matter if you are Tweeting or TikToking, approaching social media with a UDL and accessibility lens can help ensure your content is engaging and accessible to everyone.

Within this context, we recently published an article that walks you through general tips on designing accessible and engaging social media content. But here are some ways to think about social media from a UDL lens:

  • Minimize the amount of text on images and whenever possible add alt text
  • Use CamelCase when writing hashtags
  • When using GIFs to communicate, ensure that the same information is provided in another way
  • Integrate multiple means, such as audio and visuals, to communicate a message

We then take a deeper dive into popular platforms including Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tiktok. You will learn some of the most common barriers that prevent all users from being able to access your content. We then provide advice on the features that help address these barriers on each platform. While you’re pinning, tweeting, or posting, use UDL to make your content usable and engaging to everyone. That way, you won’t find yourself facepalming later.

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