As higher education professionals, educators, and/or community organizers, we rely heavily on our social media accounts to (1) create community; and (2) inform our community of upcoming events. Managing our social media accounts can be a full-time job; especially, when it is done effectively (re: consistently and strategically). Some offices/organizations have developed roles solely for the management of social media accounts; but, most of us take on this responsibility in addition to a plethora of other tasks that require our full attention! As a result, it is easy to quickly create a post and send it out to your community without thinking about the impact it may have on the folx within it.

Below, we have listed three areas to focus on before clicking “publish” on your next post to ensure the accessibility (and inclusivity) of your next post:

Image Text for the Post

Images are always fun to share. And, on most social media platforms they receive the most impressions due to the sites logarithms. We most likely will share an image with a quote, picture, or information about our upcoming event. To ensure that these posts can be utilized by everyone in your community make sure you provide an “image text description.” This looks differently depending on the platform you are utilizing.

For posts on Facebook or LinkedIn: The author of the post will have to add a description of the image at the end of the post. It will look like this:

Higher education, Jamie piperato, JPHigherEd,

Image Text: “Have you subscribed to our #JPSPEAKS Podcast!? Download our podcast and listen in! You’ll find it on iTunes! Ask your office or student staff to listen in as well and have a conversation afterward! We’ve had guests such as Dr. Paul Brown, Dr. Vijay Pendakur, Debby Kittredge Irving, Lynn Carroll, Chris Mosier, JR Goldblum, and more! Our upcoming episodes will feature conversations with Dr. Zakiya Muwwakkil, Sinclair Preston Ceasar III, Beth Berila, Alex C. Lange, and others! Image Text: A Podcast Hosted by Jamie Piperato / JP Speaks / Social Justice & Inclusion Podcast for Higher Education Professionals”

For posts on Twitter: The author of the post will have the opportunity to add the image description by clicking on the image text description box (as show below). Please note: this option is only available on the desktop version of Twitter.

Image of Twitter Post on Desktop / Author can click on image where it says “Add Description” to include image text and image description. This option is only available on Desktop Version of Twitter.

Image Shows the “Image Description” input box for Twitter Desktop Users

Contrast and Font Size for the Post

To ensure that all posts are easily visible to everyone in your community, please ensure that the images you post have a large font size (with font that can be read easily). In addition, please ensure that the color palette that is utilized has high contrast between the lettering and the background color/image. See below for examples:

This image has great contrast in colors but does not have a large enough font; therefore, it is hard to read.

This image has a large font size but the contrast in the colors of both the background and the font makes this image hard to read.

This is the most accessible image due to font size and contrast in colors.

Language That is Both Accessible and Inclusive of Various Identities

To ensure we are creating accessible posts for everyone in our communities, we must be intentional about the language that we use. We have a tendency, within our communities, to utilize acronyms and terminology that is only accessible to those who are active within those communities. Before publishing a post make sure the language that you are utilizing is accessible to everyone (regardless of educational level, position in community, familiarity with community, etc…).

Moreover, to ensure that you are not isolating, devaluing, or harming members of your community, please ensure that the language that you are using is inclusive of all of the members of your community. This is a conversation about intent versus impact. We may intend to be inclusive of all the members of our community in the posts that we create but the impact of those posts may be harmful due to the language that we utilize. Below we have listed a few examples of how our language can be harmful:

“We have a crazy, cool event coming up in January! Make sure you grab your seat before seats run out!” (ableist)

“This is crazy…” (ableist)

“We hope to see all of you guys at this event!” (sexist)

“Jump into the New Year with this new Initiative!” (ableist)

“Ladies & Gentleman! Boys & Girls! We have an amazing opportunity for you this week!” (transphobic)

What are some other tools and techniques that you utilize within your role to ensure that you are providing accessible and inclusive posts to your community? Leave your answer in the comment section below!