Veronica With Four Eyes

How To Add Alt Text On Social Media

When people ask me if I have any tips for improving accessibility of social media posts, I like to ask them if they know how to add alt text on social media platforms. While a lot of people know how to add alt text on one or two platforms, the truth is that alt text has to be added manually across all social media platforms so that blind and visually impaired users can understand what is in an image. It only takes less than a minute to add alt text to social media posts, so it’s an easy way to ensure that audiences who use assistive technology are not excluded. Here are my tips for how to add alt text on social media for common platforms.

What is alt text?

Alt text tells people what is in an image, such as text or basic essential details. Many people with blindness, low vision, or other visual impairments use screen readers to access websites, applications, and documents. When the screen reader comes across an image, the alt text is read out loud to tell the person what the image is and what it looks like. Search engines also index alt text information and consider it a factor when determining search engine ratings.

While there are some applications that can generate automatic alt text, the most useful and meaningful alt text comes from people taking the time to write a short description (about 140 characters) and adding it to their social media posts.

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Are alt text and image descriptions different?

An image description gives more details than alt text and allows someone to learn more about what is in an image that goes beyond alt text. Alt text gives the user the most important information while image descriptions provide further detail. For example, alt text tells someone that there’s a puddle on the floor, and image description tells someone that the puddle on the floor is in the middle of the floor and it’s orange juice. A growing number of users will add both alt text and image descriptions to their posts, often putting the image description in the caption or comment section.

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Twitter

Twitter supports alt text up to 420 characters, thought alt text cannot be added or edited once a picture is posted. Users must enable the ability to post alt text prior to adding alt text to any posts, but only need to enable it once.

To enable posting alt text on Twitter:

  1. Go to settings and preferences
  2. Under the general section, select “Accesibility”
  3. Turn on the ability to compose image descriptions

To add alt text to Twitter posts:

  1. Create a new tweet and attach an image
  2. Click “add description” underneath the image
  3. Type alt text of your choice
  4. Click “done” when finished

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Instagram

Instagram supports alt text up to 100 characters, and alt text can be added or edited once a picture is posted.

To add alt text to new Instagram posts:

  1. Create a new post
  2. Click “compose alt text” underneath advanced settings of the post
  3. Type alt text of your choice
  4. Click “done” when finished

To add alt text to existing Instagram posts:

  1. Click on the three vertical dots at the top of the post
  2. Click “edit”
  3. Tap the “alt text” option that is directly on top of the photo, next to the “tag people” option.
  4. Add your own alt text and save it to the photo

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Facebook

Facebook supports alt text up to 100 characters, and alt text can be added or edited once a picture is posted.

To add alt text to new Facebook posts:

  1. Create a new post and attach an image
  2. Click “Edit Photo”, then click “Alt Text”
  3. Automatically generated alt text will display on the left side of the image. This can be edited by selecting “override generated alt text”
  4. After overriding generated alt text, type alt text of your choice
  5. Click “save” when finished

To add alt text to existing Facebook posts:

  1. Click the photo to open it.
  2. Select “Options” in the bottom right and then select “Change Alt Text”
  3. If needed, select “Override generated alt text” or change the alt text in the text box
  4. Click “save” when finished

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Tumblr

Tumblr supports alt text up to 200 characters, and alt text cannot be added or edited once a picture or gif is posted.

To add alt text to new Tumblr posts:

  1. Create a new post and attach an image
  2. Click on the three vertical dots in the lower right-hand corner of the post
  3. Tap the “alt text” option
  4. Add your own alt text and save it to the photo

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Pinterest

Pinterest does not technically support alt text, however if an image is posted on Pinterest, the alt text is by default included in the description of the post. I recommend using image descriptions in the caption of pins to provide more information about images.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn supports alt text up to 120 characters, and alt text cannot be added or edited once a picture is posted. Alt text also cannot be added or edited on mobile apps.

To add alt text to new LinkedIn posts:

  1. Create a new post and attach an image
  2. Click on “add alt text” which can be found on the lower left side
  3. Add your own alt text and save it to the photo

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Final thoughts

Alt text is tremendously helpful for social media users, and I am excited to see that more and more people are taking the time to add alt text and image descriptions to their posts. By knowing how to add alt text on social media, you’ll be able to ensure your images are accessible and easy to understand by anyone who reads your posts.

How To Add Alt Text On Social Media. How to set alt text on your favorite social media platforms and be inclusive of blind and low vision people who use screen readers and assistive technology

 



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