Is Social Media Accessible?

May 23, 2019 BY 3MEDIAWEB
Updated: June 11, 2019

social mediaIs social media accessible?

While social media is a free resource that anyone can download, not everyone can access it.

In the webinar, Accessibility and Social Media, John Foliot, Principal Accessibility Strategist at Deque Systems, dive into how you can make your social media accessible to all.

Below is a snippet from the Q&A portion.

Does the ADA require organizations to make social media accessible?

JOHN FOLIOT: It’s as much a policy question as anything else. The the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), when it was written, the internet as we know it today, the World Wide Web as we know it today, wasn’t a thing.

As such, there is no specific language in the ADA that talks about the accessibility of digital content.

The Department of Justice nonetheless has weighed in. And the DOJ has said that, in their opinion, that the spirit of the ADA of providing accommodation to all people equally so that you’re not discriminating against anybody, that spirit applies to digital content.

In terms of social media, it’s untried.

How do you recommend creating accessible content in a management platform such as the Hootsuite?

JOHN FOLIOT: A tool like Hootsuite is really about managing the content.

If you’re going to have internal– especially if you’re Section 508 obligated – the accessibility of a tool like Hootsuite may fall under there.

Hootsuite is like Facebook in that if you’re using it as a publishing tool, you have no control over the source code. So your only real legal exposure would be under that ADA providing accommodation for tools for employees.

In terms of ensuring accessibility to social media, again, it happens earlier in the process. It happens at the content creation stage.

If a platform doesn’t allow audio description, is it acceptable to upload a separate video to fulfill the requirement?

JOHN FOLIOT: Absolutely. And I’ve actually seen large number of Fortune 500 companies using that kind of an approach where they are actually providing multiple videos. There’s the main video, and then they have alternative versions that include audio description and/or captioning.

How can someone who does not have screenreading accessibility software determine whether an image has text or not?

JOHN FOLIOT: There is a number of browser plugin tools and bookmarklets that you can use that can expose alt text on the screen very quickly. There’s also a more geeky way of doing it where you can do DOM inspection, but for a lot of content users in some of our training, I point to browser extensions, browser plugins.

There’s one called the Web Developers toolbar. It’s created by a gentleman by the name of Chris Pederick.

A former colleague and accessibility warrior, a gentleman by the name of Paul Adam, also has a number of bookmarklets which are these tiny little JavaScript things that you can drag up into your browser bookmark toolbar. You can find them at

How do you create relevant text for hyperlinks on Facebook and Twitter? Would using a shortened link like a Bitly link be OK?

JOHN FOLIOT: Part of the problem is that a Bitly link does not give you the hint because it shortens the URL. And so the answer to that would probably be primarily editorial. In that case we cannot. I know some social media platforms will automatically shorten URLs, which is a little bit frustrating. But again, it’s one of those things that’s outside of our control.

And so all I can do is suggest, A, that the lead-in text to any link be as descriptive as possible, and B, that recommendation of having a web page or a website that is your single source of truth, that if the social media platform fails, you can always come back to our home base where we’ll provide all of that information.

Watch the full webinar below to uncover more tips on making your social media accessible!

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