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Accessible Social

Frequently Asked Questions

Having questions about digital accessibility isn't a bad thing! There's so much to learn and asking questions will only make you more knowledgable, so keep asking. Below are some commonly asked questions about digital accessibility. And because the person running this site does not personally rely on assistive technology or practices to currently access digital content, any questions touching on user experience or preference will be answered by guest authors and credited appropriately in the response.

If you have a question about digital accessibility that you don't see answered here or isn't explained elsewhere on the website, please email Accessible Social at

Question: Are there any examples of image descriptions on Accessible Social?

Answer: Yes! You'll find sample social media scenarios paired with images on our Accessible Image Scenarios page. Each visual has an example image description written for it.

Question: Can you mark images on social media as decorative?

Answer: In the traditional web development sense, no, you cannot mark visuals you upload on social media as decorative images. Even without this functionality, the argument could be made that there are very few instances where an image on social media would be considered decorative. Social media content is normally about telling a story in an abbreviated fashion through short copy and eye-catching visuals. If you upload an image to accompany a post, it more than likely has context that viewers should know about, even if it feels minor. You should always write detailed image descriptions for your social media images and never just write "null" or "decorative" in a designated alt text field.

Question: How can I make Stories and Reels more accessible beyond captions?

Answer: Adding narration to your Stories and Reels in addition to captions can help make them more accessible. You want to make sure you have a visual component for people who rely on their sight to access information as well as an audio component for people who rely on their hearing.

Question: How can we make sure accessibility isn’t forgotten in the rush when we need to get out urgent messages?

Answer: Keep things as simple as possible. It's easier to make simple content accessible, especially when you're moving fast, and things are chaotic. And simple, straightforward content is always better when dealing with crisis communications since you're less likely to confuse your followers.

Question: How do you get content stakeholders and leadership to support accessibility?

Answer: Stressing the importance of accessibility and the impact it has on web users should always be your go-to argument when it comes to getting support from other people. Plain and simple, everyone should just care about accessibility.

Of course, most digital professionals know that appealing to someone's perceived moral aptitude in business settings doesn't always work. If that's the obstacle you're running into, there are other persuasive defenses to use, which are outlined in more detail on our Why Accessibility Matters page.

If none of your arguments work and someone is still pushing back against accessible content creation practices, it may be time to start questioning if the person you're trying to convince is actually human.

Question: How do you say WCAG?

Answer: The pronunciation is preferential. You can treat it like an initialism and say each letter individually, but many people also pronounce it like "W-Keg".

Question: How often should I be updating my accessibility practices?

Answer: At the very least, you should assess your accessibility best practices and guidelines for social media once a year. With how often technology changes and platforms update or add features, you want to make sure you're staying current. Maintenance is a key part of keeping digital communications and platforms accessible for everyone.

Question: I want to retweet something, but the image doesn’t have alt text. What’s the best way to add it?

Answer: If you're going to retweet a piece of content that doesn't have alt text, quote retweet it and write a description for the image in your tweet. Just make sure that you precede your alt text with the words "image description" or "alt text" so it's clear to a screen reader user what you're tweeting about.

Question: If a platform has AI-generated image descriptions, is it okay to rely on those instead of writing custom image descriptions?

Answer: No. You should never rely on auto-generated image descriptions that have been written by an artificial intelligence (AI) program. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Threads will often tout their AI-generated image descriptions as a reliable substitute for not writing custom image descriptions or making an alt text field available. However, AI-generated image descriptions aren't normally very descriptive or accurate enough to be considered accessible and will lack important context. They usually just sound like a string of random keywords.

Question: In an organization, who has the most responsibility for ensuring content is accessible?

Answer: Everyone! It doesn't matter if you're the Chief Marketing Officer for a global brand or an intern for a local business, everyone within an organization needs to be aware of the importance of accessibility. But of course, at the end of the process, it will be content creators and publishers who will bare most of the responsibility for ensuring final content is accessible.

Question: Is it better to use a platform’s designated alt text field or write a visible image description in the body of a post?

Answer: If you want to make your post fully accessible, you should actually do both, believe it or not. Not everyone who needs access to textual information about the details of an image uses assistive technology, so by writing alt text and an image description, you’re covering all your bases. Some folks will duplicate their alt text and image description, while others will try to indicate in the alt text field that an image description can be found in the body of the post. It’s up to you how you choose to proceed.

Threads, Twitter, and BlueSky are the only platforms where you don’t need to implement this practice because they have a visible alt text badge. Just make sure to write descriptive alt text.

Question: Is there a way to view the alt text written for images on other websites besides social media?

Answer: Yes. If you have a smartphone, use the text-to-speech program built into it. The text-to-speech program on iPhone is called VoiceOver. On Android devices, it’s usually called TalkBack. Once you activate the text-to-speech program, you can tap an image to hear the alt text read aloud.

You can also use Google Chrome on your desktop. Right click on an image, select “Inspect,” and then there should be a tab labeled “Accessibility” in the panel that pops up to the right. Click that tab. Once you’re in the Accessibility tab, you’ll see an accessibility tree. If the image had alt text applied to it, it’ll be at the very bottom of the tree. It will also be in the area labeled “Name” below the accessibility tree. If it’s cut off by the panel, just hover over it to read the alt text.

Question: Someone is repeatedly creating inaccessible content despite me telling them why it's bad. Is there anything I can do to further educate them?

Answer: If possible, show them their inaccessible content in action. Recording how a text-to-speech program handles a bad piece of content can be a very eye-opening experience for someone. You can easily accomplish this by using a smartphone's text-to-speech program. Or just show them any of the various screen recording examples from Accessible Social.

It's also a good idea to have an official social media policy for your organization that includes a section on accessible best practices and guidelines. Make sure to get your legal team to review and approve the final policy, too. Hopefully it's rare that someone actually wants to argue about policy with a bunch of lawyers.

Question: What else should I do if a social media platform does not support alt text or closed captions?

Answer: If a platform doesn't offer an alt text field, write your image description in the caption area of your post or image. If a platform doesn't offer the ability to created closed captions or upload an SRT captions file, add open captions to your video before uploading it.

Question: What is WCAG?

Answer: WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines which is a set of guidelines intended to help web content authors and developers prepare their content for use by people with disabilities and ensure equal access to websites. The goal of WCAG is to provide a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. Essentially, they're the most universal set of standards we have for digital accessibility around the world.

Question: What is a baseline everyone should be following for accessibility? What do "good" or "great" look like when it comes to accessible content?

Answer: There's not really a good way to quantify the effectiveness of your content because everyone's experience with it is going to be different. A genuine effort and always being open to listening and learning new things is what will make you a good ally and a better content creator. After all, making an effort with accessibility is better than doing nothing at all.

Question: What is one thing that brands can stop doing today to improve accessibility?

Answer: When it comes to inclusive social media, there are two routes to take that result in inaccessible content: you're either forgetting something like alt text for images or captions for videos, or you're doing something extra that's making perfectly good content inaccessible.

In the case of the latter, brands should stop using ASCII art and alternative characters in their content. Neither practice is accessible and can cause some real headaches for screen reader users.

Question: What the heck is "web a11y"?

Answer: Disabled Software Engineer Ashlee Boyer wrote a brilliant breakdown of the numeronym "a11y" and what it means. It's a great and informative read and following Ashlee on Twitter is also an excellent idea. She's an expert on web accessibility.

Question: What's the difference between closed captions and open captions? What about burned and embedded captions?

Answer: There are two types of captions, closed and open. Closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer. You'll typically see them on streaming services and media hosting sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Open captions are permanently burned onto a video during post-production and cannot be turned off by the viewer. They're sometimes referred to as "burned" or "embedded" captions.

Question: When it comes to describing people in images, when should you be specific about stuff like race, ethnicity, sex, etcetera?

Answer: Adding identifiers for people is entirely up to you and the context of your content. For example, let's say you're tweeting about diversity in STEM. Multiple identifiers could be contextually important for the alt text of your images. You may want to describe not only the sex of any people in your images, but their race, age, and ethnicity as well.

Question: Why is the Accessible Social mascot a llama?

Answer: That's not a llama! It's a camel in honor of #camelCase. Their name is Carl after Carl Linnaeus, the zoologist who gave dromedary camels their binomial name. They also answer to Carla.