Accessibility on Social Media

There has been a movement on social media to make the platforms more accessible toward people with vision and hearing impairments – such as introducing closed captions/subtitles on videos and implementing invisible text under photos on instagram. The closed captions make it possible for people with hearing impairments to understand what is being said whenever there is an audio being played. On the other hand, the invisible text uses a text-to-speech method for people with vision impairments in an effort to describe the context of what has been posted. iPhones have also been great with allowing people to speak into their phones in order to send and listen to messages. 

There are a few things that people can do in general to make their social media pages more accessible to people who may not be fully capable of perceiving content in the same way. For instance, making sure to use proper punctuation and phrasing would allow the text-to-speech feature to run smoothly. Another example could be ensuring that closed captions and audio descriptions are activated before creating posts, and also closed captions in general. 

There has been a bit of controversy lately regarding instagram and their ‘invisible captions’. To elaborate, instagram has a feature in place for visually impaired people that lets users add a description to their posts in an invisible format so the option is there for those who cannot read them directly. However, influencers have discovered this handy tool and are using it to their advantage – promoting their posts without others realizing as a result. This works by using hashtags in their captions with the invisible feature – making it harder for visually imparied people to find the content they seek and unnecessarily flooding the servers. 

Matt King is an engineer for Facebook who is working to develop a more accessible platform for people with disabilities – “King’s team is building solutions for visually impaired people on the platform, but the technology could eventually be used to identify images and videos that violate Facebook’s terms of use, or that advertisers want to avoid.” (Castillo 2018). Just like representation in media is really important for minority groups and for people who generally don’t get to see things similar to what they experience in films and movies, having the option for people with disabilities to utilize social media platforms properly is very important in making the digital more inclusive.


Castillo, Michelle. “A blind Facebook engineer is helping to solve one of the biggest problems on the internet”. (2018).