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Inclusive Images: adding ALT Text to your images on social media

Everyone engages on social media; what fun it is to connect and exchange information, ideas and a few laughs on social media. However, when sharing images on your social media accounts if you are not considering adding ALT Text to the images; you are not being inclusive and have not considered engaging persons who use an assistive technology called a screen reader due to their print disability. In todays post we are going to understand on how to add ALT Text to the images you upload on your social media accounts. This not only benefits persons with a print disability who use a screen reader but it's also great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Before we proceed on how to add ALT Text to the images you share on social media, let us understand what ALT Text is. 

What is ALT Text?

Alt text is a tenet of accessible web design. Its original (and still primary) purpose is to describe images to visitors who are unable to see them. Also called alt tags and alt descriptions, alt text is the written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load on a user's screen. This text helps screen-reading tools describe images to visually impaired readers and allows search engines to better crawl and rank your website or content.

How does it help?

1. Accessibility: Back in 1999, W3C published its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 in order to explain how to make content more accessible for users with disabilities. One of these guidelines was to “Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content.” That meant any webpages including images (or movies, sounds, applets, etc.) should include equivalent information to its visual or auditory content.

2. User Experience: Alt text not only provides a better user experience to users with disabilities — it provides a better UX to all users. Say, a visitor has a low-bandwidth connection so the images on your webpage aren't loading. Instead of just seeing a broken link icon, they'll also see the alt text. This will allow them to glean what the image was meant to convey.

3. Image Traffic: One of the most important things image alt text can do for you is turn your images into hyperlinked search results that appear either in Google Images or as image packs. Image packs are special results displayed as a horizontal row of image links that can appear in any organic position (including the #1 spot on a search result. Images that appear in either Google Images or image packs provide yet another way to receive organic visitors. This can result in thousands of more visitors. This is also called SEO

Alt text has a major role in making social media a friendly space for the blind and low-vision, as they are mostly browsing with the help of audio and the alt-text helps narrate the visual experience of social media. Since Google’s crawlers can’t see an image like a human can, alt text helps Google understand the image. Alt text provides additional context to an image that allows Google to index and rank the image appropriately in Google Images search results. Adding keyword optimized alt text can help improve your rankings and bring more traffic to your website.

Writing alt text in social media is a lot simpler than you might think. Imagine that you’re describing the image to someone that can’t see it in one or two sentences. Keep keywords in mind, but don’t stuff it with keywords. Your alt text should read as a description, so make sure to avoid phrases that include photo of or graphic of. Some examples:

Little owl sitting on branch 

Female nurse tying her surgical mask in operation theater at a hospital

How to Add Alt Text to Facebook Images?

Facebook has an automatic alt-text feature that uses technology to help determine the appropriate alt-text for your images. But, it isn’t perfect. There are two ways to edit alt-text on Facebook.

1. Before you post the photo, click Edit Photo and choose the Alt Text option to change the alt text. It will show you the auto generated text and allow you to input your own. This feature appears to be only accessible through the desktop version.

2. To edit an existing photo, click the options button to open a menu that reveals an option to Change Alt Text. This feature is also only available on desktop versions.

How to Add Alt Text to Twitter Images?

Twitter doesn’t allow you to edit existing tweets, so you’ll have to edit your alt-text before you share them. While composing a tweet with an image on the app or desktop version, click Edit Photo to access the option to Write Alt Text or ALT. Twitter will ask you to describe the photo and this description will become the image’s alt text.

How to Add Alt Text to Instagram Images?

To edit the alt text before posting the photo, on the final edit screen, and before you click Share, click Advanced Settings to access the ability to Write Alt Text. Enter your new alt-text and click Done at the top right of the screen when complete. If you skip editing this alt-text, instagram will use technology to automatically generate one, but it’s accuracy can be unpredictable.

If you forget or need to edit an existing photo, while in the Instagram app, open the image you wish to edit and click the three dots (•••) in the right corner above the image. Click the Edit option that appears in the menu and you should see an Edit Alt Text button at the bottom right of the image. Enter your new alt-text and click Done at the top right of the screen when complete.

How to Add Alt Text to LinkedIn Images?

Linkedin makes it very simple to add alt text to your images. Although, it looks like you can only edit alt text on their desktop version currently. To edit the alt text before you post a photo, select your photo you want to share. An Add Alt Text button appears over your image. Enter your alt-text and click Save when complete.

In order to edit an existing photo, click the three dots (•••) above the LinkedIn update you want to edit, then click Edit Update. The edit alt text option will appear over your image. Enter your new alt-text and click Save when complete.

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  1. This is a great way to make things accessible. :)


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