A Guide to Digital Accessibility for Your Brand

Side view of someone typing on a laptop computer.

Let’s talk about digital accessibility.

This is a topic we discussed with Alexa Heinrich (a social media manager and digital accessibility advocate) in a previous #TwitterSmarter chat. And it’s something that more online content creators need to be aware of if they want to ensure their brand is inclusive.

This post dives into what digital accessibility is, why it’s important, and easy tweaks that will make your content more accessible to everyone.

What is Digital Accessibility?

To put it simply, digital accessibility is making sure your content is accessible to everyone. That means that anyone (even those with visual or hearing impairments) should be able to consume your content. When your content isn’t accessible, you risk alienating potential members of your audience, thus hurting your brand in the long run.

Digital accessibility is crucial if you want to include all of your followers in the conversation and ensure that no one is being excluded based on their physical or cognitive ability.

Why It’s Crucial for Your Brand

But why is digital accessibility so important? Here’s what Alexa had to say:

“Digital accessibility is crucial if you want to include all of your followers in the conversation and ensure that no one is being excluded based on their physical or cognitive ability.”

My team member, Danielle Nocon, has been helping me behind-the-scenes to ensure my content across all platforms is accessible to my community. Here’s why she thinks it’s something every online brand should be doing:

“Implementing digital accessibility can have a positive impact on the brand’s reputation by helping to raise awareness and spread good practices. It also makes good marketing sense. More inclusive content has the potential to reach more people. Brands that are not intentionally practicing digital accessibility are likely missing out on potential connections with people who are differently abled.”

We often forget that our online communities are made up of people from all different walks of life. Not everyone is exactly like us and they may face challenges when consuming content. So, we need to be considerate of them whenever we publish something new online. Danielle also pointed out another important factor:

“Finally, it may not be a matter of physical ability, but a matter of preference or situation. Providing different ways to interact with your content gives people options. For instance, someone may prefer to watch videos with the sound off – or be in a situation that is not appropriate for having the sound on. In such cases, captions enable them to still understand what’s going on in the video.”

So, it’s not just about someone’s ability to consume your content. You also want to consider what their preferences are and make your content accessible in a way that appeals to them.

How to Increase Digital Accessibility Online

Now the question is, how can you ensure your content is accessible to everyone? Well, there are a few easy things you can do to increase your digital accessibility when posting on social media. While this will require a little extra work on your part, it will definitely be worth it in the long run. And your community will surely appreciate it.

1. Add Alt Text to the Images You Post

Alt text (short for “alternative text”) is essentially a description of your image. If an image ever fails to load, the alt text will be displayed instead. For those who are visually impaired, the alt text can be read aloud to them via a screen reader. Here’s an example:

Closeup of a woman's hands holding a smartphone and typing on the screen with her thumbs.

What would we choose as the alt text for the image above? A great example would be, “Closeup of a woman’s hands holding a smartphone and typing on the screen with her thumbs.”

HubSpot has a great post that shares how to write great alt text, which you should definitely check out. It offers both good and bad examples so you can see the difference.

If there’s ever a time where you’re posting a graphic that merely repeats what’s written in your post, Danielle suggests using, “text-based graphic with same text as in post” for the alt text. This is actually something we do for the question graphics each week during the #TwitterSmarter chat, as the question is on both the graphics and the tweets themselves.

2. Caption All of Your Videos

Whether it’s a YouTube video or a one-minute TikTok, your video content needs to have captions in order to be accessible to those who are hearing impaired or watching without sound. Luckily, many platforms are making it easier to caption videos with auto-generated captions that can be edited for clarity.

Besides using the built-in captioning feature that some platforms offer, you can also use a third-party tool. My favorite is BIGVU.

3. Provide Transcripts for Podcasts

Podcasts are an amazing way to share valuable content with people online. However, if you have people in your community who are deaf or hard of hearing, they won’t be able to tune in. That’s why it’s important to offer a transcript or some sort of recap for each of your podcast episodes. This way, no one has to feel like they’re missing out.

And when you’re promoting your latest episode with a snippet of the audio, make sure you add captions there as well. This way, those with a hearing impairment will be able to understand the teaser. So will anyone watching with their phone’s sound off. My favorite tool for this is Wavve.

4. Capitalize Separate Words When Writing Hashtags

This digital accessibility tip is one you might not have thought about before. We often type our hashtags in all lowercase. It’s just become a habit! But both Alexa and Danielle suggest using “Camel Case” instead. With Camel Case, you would capitalize each new word in the hashtag. For example, #contentmarketing becomes #ContentMarketing. See how much easier that is to read? Not only that, but it’s better for those with visual impairments who are relying on screen readers to consume content.

One Final Piece of Advice

Before sending you on your way to work on your digital accessibility, there’s one last piece of advice I have to share from Alexa. Here’s what she had to say:

“Work accessibility into your content creation process and make sure that content stakeholders, as well as brand leadership, understand the importance of creating accessible content. If you have a social media policy, work with your legal team to add important guidelines about accessibility to it. It helps to have accessibility best practices in writing so that people outside of the marketing team can reference and learn from them.”

While it may seem overwhelming now, incorporating these practices will soon become second nature. And taking the extra steps to become an inclusive brand will be worthwhile.