Optimising images for people with accessibility issues

Is ensuring that your content is accessible for everyone something you need to consider when creating it?

25/08/20

Elizabeth Cromwell

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A lot of people tend to assume that the developers will take care of this, the social media network will take care of this, or that people with accessibility issues will figure it out themselves; however, this is not necessarily the case. If you create content that cannot be easily accessed by those with accessibility issues, you risk shutting out a large group of people, some of which could be within your target market.  


According to UK government statistics, at least 1 in 5 people have a disability (long or short term), or impairment. This equates to 20% of your potential audience that you cannot afford, ethically and financially, to neglect.


Most social media platforms are visual in nature; therefore, you need to ensure that the content you upload is easy for your audience to see and read. 


Make sure any images you upload to social media are easy to see and understand, as well as providing an alternative for those who can’t see the image. 


Images you share should also be well lit with minimal background ‘noise’. If it includes text, make sure this stands out and it’s easy and clear to read. You also need to think about the colour palettes you use.


A useful tool to help with this issue is http://colorsafe.co/. This free, online tool invites you to input your background colour, font size, and other design details. It then suggests accessible colour combinations that you could use.



Let’s look at alternative media for those who cannot view your image; there should be another way they can access the information that the image is trying to convey. The solution is ‘Alt Text’. You can add alt text to images on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. (LinkedIn and Facebook also have tools that automatically generate alt text should you forget; writing the text yourself, however, is always preferable.) 


Your alt text should accurately describe what’s in the picture, to help those who cannot see the image. It’s not an opportunity to focus on SEO, alt text is simply a descriptive tool to show what’s going on in the image, which is a helpful addition to such as screen readers and speech recognition software. 

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