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Accessibility on Social Media

Written by Ben Leach on

Social media is vital for any organisation to communicate with their users. But are you communicating in the most inclusive way? And, how accessible are the top social platforms in the UK?

No matter how your business is run, or what you sell, there’s one thing for certain. You need a social media presence.

Social platforms allow you to connect with your customers, increase awareness of your brand and boost your leads and sales. There’s no one who can deny the effectiveness of social media when it’s done correctly.

But what if you’ve been doing it incorrectly this entire time?

Is your social media inclusive? 

Whilst many organisations are now becoming more aware of accessibility on websites, social media often gets ignored.

Roughly 20% of the UK population has some kind of disability, whether that is a cognitive, motor, hearing or visual impairment. Disabled people use social media. There are, however, things that organisations can be doing to make their social content more inclusive and accessible to a wider audience.

The potential issue with social media platforms is that they aren’t necessarily up to the accessibility standards themselves. And, since you don’t own them, you are often confined to how accessible the social media platform is. 

The law about social media accessibility

Unfortunately, there’s very little guidance within UK law that dictates how accessible organisations need to be on social media. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 strives for accessibility on the web but makes no reference to accessibility on social media.

 Similarly, the Public Bodies (Websites and Mobile Apps) Accessibility Regulations 2018 makes no reference to accessibility on social media either.

The only legislation that bears any relation to social media is the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act prohibits organisations from discriminating against those with disabilities. However, with content uploaded onto social media, it is a bit of a grey area.

The content is the property of the uploader, but it is being facilitated by the social platform. This makes it difficult to actually assess where the responsibility lies. Is it with the social platform for not making their system accessible by default? Or with the content owner for not making their content accessible? Realistically, the answer is both, but legally speaking it can be a challenge to place the blame on any single entity. 

The importance of making your social content accessible

As of January 2020, an estimated 3.8 billion people were using social media worldwide. Roughly half the world’s population.

If we use the fact that roughly 20% of the population has a disability, you can estimate there to be about 590 million disabled users on social media.

Social media has reshaped the way we communicate with consumers. Around 78% of consumers say that social media posts impact their purchasing decisions. So ensuring you’re communicating with everybody as equals is of the utmost importance.

As a digital agency and accessibility advocates, our research shows us that each social media platform has its own approach to accessibility. Some are more accessible than others.

Our social media accessibility series

Over the next 3 days, we’ll be releasing a series of blogs explaining exactly how accessible your social channels are, and how you can work at uploading better content that is more accessible and inclusive to boost your engagement. 

 Over the next week, we’ll be covering the top 3 social media platforms in the UK, explaining how accessible they really are.

The four channels that we will cover are:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

If you have any thoughts on each platform, we’d love to have your comments on: