Making Twitter posts more accessible
Twitter is an effective tool to make learning visible and can be used to engage learners in universally designed learning environments. If you are going to adopt Twitter as a teaching and learning tool, use the following seven practices to improve the accessibility of your tweets.
1 – Add image descriptions
Add a description or alt text to images and other non-text content, including memes and gifs. When describing an image, try to convey the same or equivalent information that a sighted viewer would get when looking at the picture, focusing on the purpose of the image.
2 – Use ‘camel case’ for hashtags
Hashtags are designed to help people more easily share and find relevant content based on a particular topic. Using capital letters at the start of each word within a hashtag means that screen-readers pronounce it correctly and screen reader users will hear the words individually rather than as a long incoherent word.
3 – Use plain language
Avoid acronyms and use simple words and straightforward sentence structures. This practice makes content easier to consume and helps people on the autistic spectrum, as well as those with a learning disability or dementia.
4 – Ensure colour contrast
If your tweet contains an infographic, check your page to make sure the colours are well contrasted, so they are easy to decipher for people who are colour-blind or have a visual impairment.
5 – Reconsider your use of emojis
Emojis are read by screen readers making them accessible. However, overuse of emojis can result in an unpleasant experience for screen reader users. Take a moment to consider how the clapping hands emoji is commonly used — clapping hands are repeated over and over, or a couple of clapping hands are sprinkled throughout a tweet. Each emoji is read to the user as “clapping hands” making the tweet longer and less meaningful. Emojis are an important part of social media communication. Using them in a judicious and thoughtful way improves the experience for all Twitter users.
6 – Place hashtags or @mentions at the end of a tweet
Placing hashtags and @mentions at the end of a tweet allows a screen reader to voice the main content from beginning to end without interruption for service-specific content that may sound confusing.
7 – Add captions to videos
To add captions:
- Upload your video as you would normally create a Tweet
- Select “Upload caption file (.srt)” and select your .srt caption file from your file menu.
Visit 3PlayMedia’s guide to SRT files to learn how to create SRT files for Mac and Windows.
References and resources
Accessible Publishing. Guide to image descriptions. Accessible Publishing. https://www.accessiblepublishing.ca/a-guide-to-image-description/
Burke, L. (2019, November 13). ‘Intentional Tech.’ Insider Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/11/13/qa-derek-bruff-author-intentional-tech
Hannell, Ruth (2021, August 02). 2021 – I resolved to write image descriptions on twitter and didn’t look back! Medium. https://medium.com/@TheRehn/2021-i-resolved-to-write-image-descriptions-on-twitter-and-didnt-look-back-3f5ecc1d8c08
Honeycutt, B. (Host). (Episode 58). Active learning in socially distanced classroom and online courses with Dr. Derek Bruff. In Lecture Breakers. https://barbihoneycutt.com/blogs/podcast/episode-58-active-learning-in-socially-distanced-classrooms-and-online-courses-with-dr-derek-bruff
Junco, R., Heibergert, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27, 119-132. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00387.x https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/sites/default/files/basic-page-supplementary-materials-files/effect_of_twitter.pdf
Kopacz, L. (2019 February 25). 7 ways to make your tweets more accessible. A11Y with Lindsey. https://www.a11ywithlindsey.com/blog/7-ways-tweets-more-accessible
Tuke, Holly. (2018, October 31). 6 ways to make your social media post accessible for people with a visual impairment. Life of a Blind Girl. https://lifeofablindgirl.com/2018/10/31/6-ways-to-make-your-social-media-posts-accessible-for-people-with-a-visual-impairment/
WebAIM. Alternative text. WebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind. https://webaim.org/techniques/alttext/