Adding Alt Text to Instagram and Facebook
Popular social media platforms Instagram and Facebook recently added a new feature to provide more equal access to users with disabilities. Alt text is a hidden description of an image that assistive devices like screen readers can read to people with visual impairments. Especially on very visual platforms like Facebook and Instagram, alt text is necessary for many people to fully appreciate your content. While both platforms will automatically generate alt text in some cases, writing your own is always preferable.
How to Write Alt Text
Good alt text allows people who cannot see the photo to appreciate it and understand its context. Alt text isn’t challenging to write, but there are some clear do’s and don’ts. To get yourself thinking along the right lines, imagine explaining the photo to someone over the phone. What would they need to know to get your point across?
Describe the image in easily understood language. Make sure to include all the important points and details.
Use short sentences and avoid unnecessary words. Alt text will generally be a single sentence unless the image is particularly complicated
Begin with “Image of…”, “This image shows…”, etc.
Repeat information already stated in the main text of the post.
Write more than a sentence or two except when absolutely necessary.
WebAIM provides a more exhaustive list of guidelines and numerous examples.
When creating your Instagram post, choose and edit your photo as normal. Tap next to add a caption, location, etc. Before hitting share, tap Advanced Settings written in small, grey text at the bottom of the screen to find the Alt Text field. To add alt text to a photo you’ve already published on Instagram, select the photo you want to edit and tap the “…” settings menu in the upper right of the screen. Next, select edit and you will see “Add Alt Text” appear on the photo.
On a computer, hover over your posted photo and click the options button that appears. Select Change Alt Text from this menu and a box will appear to edit the automatically generated text. To add alt text when initially posting a photo on your computer, select your photo to upload as normal. Once its thumbnail has appeared in your post editor box, hover over it and click the paintbrush symbol. This will open a new menu with the option to edit alt text.
On the iOS (Apple) Facebook mobile app, you can edit alt text on already posted photos. Simply open the photo, tap the “…” settings menu in the upper right of the screen, and select Edit Alt Text from the menu that appears.
Adding alt text takes just a few moments of your time, but greatly improves the accessibility and equality of your content. Spend a few minutes adding alt text to some of your photos today!