Accessibility of Social Media


Social media is a valuable tool to promote resources and programing available to our campus community. The following information will assist you in having the widest reach by being accessible to everyone. Implementing the following measures will also ensure that the University is compliant with accessibility law and CSU policy.

These accessibility principles can be used across all social media platforms. We will indicate which actions are mandated and which are best practices and highly recommended. Below the principles, you will find reminders for how to implement these practices on specific social media platforms. As technology is always changing, some information, particularly in the Platform-specific instructions, may not be up-to-date.  For the most updated tutorials, please search directly on the platform website. DPRC is always available to assist or consult on applying these requirements.

1. Use alternative text for images (Required)

Alternative text, or alt text, is not always visible on the end-user interface, but allows assistive devices to provide a text-based description of the image. The description should be as short as possible, while still providing all contextually necessary image descriptors. For more information on creating effective alt text, visit WebAIM's website on Alt Text.

Best Practice

Add an image description (alt text) directly into a photo caption if the feature is available.

2. Ensure all videos are captioned

Pre-recorded videos (Required)

Pre-recorded media requires what is commonly referred to as closed captions. Auto captions are not sufficient to meet legal requirements. You can add your own captions or edit automatically generated captions. Alternatively, you can request media captions through our online request form on our website, but please note there may be a chargeback to your department and additional turn-around time should be planned before your deadline.

Best Practice

Videos with no audio do not require captions, however, they should be acknowledged as such. This includes acknowledging music in the video. However, a description of visual-only content should accompany such videos (ex. "This video contains <music title or song name> with no words").

Live video (Required)

For live events, real-time captioning also needs to be provided. To make arrangements for a real-time captioner, submit a request online with your planned event details. Please note, there may be a chargeback to your department. 

3. Color Contrast of Images (Required)

When adding text to images (memes included), ensure there is sufficient contrast between the image background and any text additions. A great tool to check color contrast of images is the Colour Contrast Analyser. This applies to event flyers and other web content as well.

4. Use descriptive links (Required)

If the social media platform allows, use descriptive link text rather than only linking the word “here” or “more.” If not allowed, as a best practice indicate whether a shared link leads to [AUDIO], [PIC], or [VIDEO] and use a URL shortener, such as Bitly, TinyURL and others.

5. Do not reshare inaccessible content (Required)

When resharing content from other accounts, check to ensure the post meets these requirements. If not, you will need to edit before sharing on your account. Please note, Twitter does not allow you to add alt text when retweeting.

6. Other Best practices


You should capitalize the first letter of each word in a hashtag (#GoGators vs. #gogators) and avoid using acronyms. Also, place hashtags at the end of a post in one chunk, as opposed to threaded throughout your text.

Avoid “busy” images

Not only will this ensure you meet color contrast requirements, it also allows you to communicate clearly the information you are trying to convey without overwhelming your followers with too much content in a single post.

Use emoji’s sparingly

Emoji’s do have alt text built in, however as descriptions are longer than a single character it can detract from your message. A good recommendation is to use an emoji once and avoid repeating the same emoji multiple times.

Avoid ableist language

As with all things, consider the language you are using carefully. Phrases like “we support” as opposed to “we stand with” or “This is wild!” instead of “This is insane” may have the same meaning but will capture a wider audience. A quick web search of ableist language should point you to many first-person narratives and explanations of other language considerations.

Plan accessible content from the beginning

Incorporating accessibility into your materials is easier when considered from your planning stages rather than being added during execution. Some materials may require turnaround time to remediate access barriers.

Finally, we are always available for consultation! More information about requirements and best practices for accessibility can be found below, including social media and beyond:

These accessibility guidelines are provided to maintain compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (2008) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  State and Federal agencies have the right to enforce accessibility on campuses and the SFSU Office of Equity Programs & Compliance may also enforce accessibility via CSU Executive Order 1096 and 1097.  These principles are also in line with CSU Executive Order 1111 and Coded Memo AA-2015-22

Resources on how to make social media accessible (with platform specific instructions)