Instagram Releases Needed Accessibility Features

Accessibility is an important factor to consider when you work in government communications. Sharing messages that are accessible to your entire community allows you to broaden your audience, communicate more effectively and stay in compliance with accessibility laws. On November 28, 2018, Instagram announced improvements to accessibility features that will support better inclusion of members of your community with visual impairments.

One notable update is the incorporation of automatic alternative text in Instagram posts. This feature uses object recognition technology to generate descriptions for images and videos that can be read by screen readers. Previously, the onus was on the person publishing the content to ensure posts contained enough detail in the captions to be understandable for those using a screen reader.

To add even more specificity to your Instagram posts, the update also now includes the ability to add your own custom alternative text to add important details about the post. This tool gives you more control over what’s being included in a post’s alternative text and allows you to include a more direct message for those who use a screen reader. To use this tool, or the automatic alternative text, just select “advanced settings” before publishing a post.

Why does this matter? Besides being the right thing to do, if your state or local agency receives federal funds, then this platform update may make it easier to comply with accessibility laws included in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Providing equal access to the information you publish will give you the opportunity to communicate with a broader audience and increase your level of engagement. If you’re worried about any past posts on Instagram complying with these regulations, the platform has also created the ability to add alternative text to photo and video posts that have already been published.

Increasing the level of inclusion within your community will bring more value to your agency’s Instagram presence and demonstrates your agency’s commitment to comply with accessibility laws. Have you used this feature yet? Share your experience by commenting below!

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