Last week we spoke about why segmentation matters (Links to an external site.), but today we are reflecting on why inclusion (Links to an external site.) matters. A little known fact about me is that, in addition to my work in business marketing and my side gig as baker, I have a full-time job in higher education, advocating for students with disabilities at FIU’s Disability Resource Center (Links to an external site.) and using marketing to destigmatize disability services that are under-utilized by students in college.
As a result of my work and acquired expertise in the field, I have been mindful to create accessible content for my constituents with diverse abilities. One of the easiest ways to make content, particularly involving images, accessible is by including alt text (Links to an external site.), or alternative text.
What exactly is alt text?
Alt text refers to image descriptors typically embedded within an HTML code that pertain to the image’s appearance or function. While this typically requires some finesse and knowledge of coding, alt text has become widely available and accessible on platforms like Instagram (Links to an external site.) that rely on sharing images predominantly.
How do I make my images accessible on Instagram?
It’s actually extremely easy to include alt text in an Instagram post, and since you already spend over 15 minutes curating the perfect filter-caption-hashtag combo, you might as well go the extra mile to make sure your post is perfect – for all users.
Simply click on Advanced Settings and select the Write Alt Text option to add your descriptive text. You can also add alt text to a previously published post by hovering over the image in the editing mode and selecting the Edit Alt Text option. Ensure your caption is descriptive enough to describe the image, but not too long that it can’t be read by a screen reader (typically around 125 characters).
In this post (Links to an external site.), I included the description, “Rows of cupcakes with multicolored sprinkles and decorative toppers including a money bag, a red owl, a green leaf, a silver sea shell, and a blue fossil.”
Why does this matter?
Audiences with visual disabilities, rely on alt text to have an experience that is contemporaneous to that of typical users. By using a special screen reader or the accessibility features on their phones, individuals may hover over an image and trigger their reader to describe the image for them – but this is only possible if the creator of the image adds alt text to their post.
Access and inclusion are not only important from a business standpoint, ensuring you reach all types of audiences – but from a humanitarian standpoint. It is our duty to promote inclusion in our daily lives, and it’s the little things, like alt text, that allow us to communicate a better message to our digital community.