Digital Marketing Accessibility: Be an #A11y – 3 Media Web

4 out of 5 Americans can consume your marketing without accessibility concerns. But what about that 1 in 5?

19% of Americans have a disability—56 million people, according to the US Census.

Does your digital marketing exclude every 5th user?

Be an A11y: Embrace and embed accessibility & inclusivity in all your digital marketing—on your website and off.

Far too much marketing content is published without accessible features or adaptations.

That renders most of that content out of reach or unusable by more than 50,000,000 Americans (and untold millions worldwide).

It’s time for that to change.

We’ll cover 2 topics in this post:

This article is far from exhaustive, but we hope that it serves as an early step in a journey that businesses needed to make a long time ago.

Let’s dive in.

Why? Motivation behind Digital Marketing Accessibility

Let’s look at the why. What are the core reasons that accessibility in marketing are important?

We all know the talking points, but what’s it all about?

Abilities & Barriers

A brief look at the abilities and barriers we’ll discuss in this article, as defined by WCAG.

Visual abilities and disabilities range from mild or moderate vision loss in one or both eyes (“low vision”) to substantial and uncorrectable vision loss in both eyes (“blindness”).

Auditory abilities and disabilities range from mild or moderate hearing loss in one or both ears (“hard of hearing”) to substantial and uncorrectable hearing loss in both ears (“deafness”).

The WCAG also discusses cognitive, physical, and speech barriers. But for the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on Visual and Auditory.

Audio/Visual Digital Consumption

Images, videos & text — these are the content formats that comprise the major digital marketing networks:

Most major social platforms are built on audio/visual content.

But format matters. Audio, video, and even static graphics are content formats.

Content needs a text foundation.

All these formats should have a text foundation.


Because text connects the formats together. Users and assistive technologies can translate text into any other format (speech, visual, etc).

Text is adaptable, and accessible.

How to improve Accessibility in Digital Marketing.

How? Tactics for Digital Marketing Accessibility

Let’s look at 6 of the world’s major social platforms and evaluate their accessibility features.

This list is not exhaustive, but it should help get marketing teams started on a path toward a more accessible, inclusive marketing program.

Instagram Image Accessibility

Instagram is mobile-only, of course. That in itself can be an advantage in accessibility terms, as many mobile devices have excellent assistive functions built in.

When posting a photo to Instagram, find the Advanced Settings menu, toward the bottom of the Post screen.

In there, you’ll find a “Write Alt Text” option. Tap that, and you’ll have the chance to provide your own 100-character alt text.

Some Instagram users improve accessibility with hashtags.

Beyond that, some unofficial accessibility methods have emerged from users.

The use of hashtag is a bonus! It allows users to connect with each other and find other content tagged with the same topics.

Instagram videos lack accessibility functions like subtitles.

Instagram Video Accessibility

There is no official video subtitle method on Instagram. Subtitles have to be “burned” into videos before posting. 😧

This is especially surprising given Facebook’s ownership of Instagram.

If the method exists on Facebook, why not extend it to Instagram too?

Facebook Image Accessibility

Facebook’s image alt text options are only accessibly on desktop. Photos can be posted via mobile and later edited via desktop.

To add alt text on Facebook images:

Facebook image accessibility alt tag editing options.

No alt text options on Facebook mobile app (iOS).

One method for working around the desktop-only limitation is to leverage your team.

One person can snap and post pictures from their mobile device (at an event, for example). And a second person (back at the office, maybe?) can edit the alt text on their desktop computer.

This method is less than ideal, but it may a reality for many agencies and marketing teams.

Facebook Video Accessibility


SubRip Subtitle (.SRT)

Closed Captioning Best Practices for Media and Entertainment:

For broadcast/scripted media, transcribe content as close to verbatim as possible…include every “um,” every stutter, and every stammer because they are intentionally included.

There is more leeway for unscripted reality shows, documentaries, and news broadcasts, because the filler words are usually unintentional and irrelevant.

So, to recap: Should your subtitles be transcribed verbatim?

In most cases, the default will be no, which provides even more opportunity to write custom, sculpted content to accompany your video or audio content.

Twitter Image Accessibility



Twitter Video Accessibility

Possible, but difficult

Alternatives popped up

YouTube Video Accessibility

LinkedIn Video Accessibility

LinkedIn requires you to upload your own custom .SRT file.

Pinterest Accessibility

Google Slides Accessibility Options

Where to add #a11y text

Access is not an afterthought.