Skip main navigation

Producing your own inclusive online content

This article reflects on some guidance on making online content more accessible, inclusive and effective
Tick boxes
© University of York

This article reflects on some key pointers that might help you make online content more accessible, inclusive and effective, particularly when thinking about social media.

Because many current campaigns and events take place online and in person, it is highly important that online media is accessible and inclusive for everyone (particularly when thinking about the responsibilities of a student role). Many of these pointers can be taken into account when using alternative forms of media, however it is always important to consider the limitations of your chosen format and the needs of your audience.

Accessibility Checklist

  • Have you used alt text for images/media?

Social media platforms sometimes include built in alt text options. This enables you to add a descriptive text for images and enables those using a screen reader to process images more easily. You can use a brief description, or mark content as decorative. Find out more through this guide to writing alt text for images

Alt text: this refers to the ‘alternative text’ written description of a digital image.

  • Have you captioned videos?

Subtitling videos makes spoken dialogue accessible for deaf and hearing impaired users, as well as making video clips more accessible for users whose first language may not be English.

  • Have you used strobe effects?

Where possible you should avoid using strobe effects as these can be very detrimental in triggering migraines and epileptic seizures.

  • Is there a digestible amount of information?

Make sure that sentences aren’t too long, (normally a couple of short paragraphs). You can always link to external sources if you want to offer the option of longer descriptions. Alternative media types such as newsletters, emails and websites provide an opportunity to provide more information clearly.

  • Are your links accessible?

Research the options there are for your chosen platform, where possible add hyperlinks that link to another window. Ensure that you are using meaningful hyperlinks which describe the destination of the link, for example ‘Inclusive-Learning website’ rather than ‘Find out more’. This ensures any audience using assistive technology or screen readers are able to navigate more confidently.

  • Have you made sure that text is easy to read?

Make sure the first letter of each word in Hashtags are capitalised, to make it easier to read for screen readers. It is also important when creating graphics to pay attention to how easy it is to see each individual word in comparison to the background. ‘WhoCanUse’ or WebAIM: Contrast Checker are useful websites that enable you to see what your graphic will look like from the perspective of people with different sight impairments. If in doubt, stick to black text on a white background and use large text.

  • Language

Make sure that you have used simple language (avoiding specialist terminology, unless directly relevant to your specific audience). This is especially important for social media, where normally written text is brief – avoiding words that are too long or technical. Take a look at the YUSU ‘Inclusive Communication’ document for more on how to use your language.

For more information about creating accessible posts, go onto this ‘Accessibility Poster’ on canva, or in an alternative google doc format here: Instagram posts: Accessibility Poster

Choosing Images

It is important to think about whether chosen images are truly reflective of the group they are representing. For example, you should avoid using stock photos that demonstrate diversity where this is not an accurate representation. This is because it comes across as insincere and can form disheartening false expectations. Try to take original, recent images that accurately reflect reality.

Content warnings

Content warnings are being introduced across platforms formally, but at the beginning of a post you can indicate manually that content you are sharing could be triggering. This gives your audience the opportunity to choose if they wish to take in information that could elicit a negative reaction. By adding a content warning, you are adding a ‘buffer zone’ for individuals, allowing people to more easily navigate social media and therefore making your content more inclusive. For more information, take a look at this guide to content warnings: Language and Linguistic Science Departmental Guidance on Content Warnings.

Do you really need to include this information? What purpose does it serve?

Before you post something with possibly harmful content, it’s important to think carefully about your reasons for sharing. If the purpose of the content is to sensationalise an event that people may find traumatic, then you should avoid posting. If your intent is to educate or inform people about something, you should still think carefully about the reactions of your audience. Does sharing this harmful content advance a cause, or is it sensationalising someone else’s struggle? Are your intentions honest or would this pertain to virtue signalling?

Virtue signalling: publicly expressing opinions or sentiments to show your own good character/ moral correctness, without actually doing anything or pertaining to any true sentiment.

Over to you

  • Have you ever come across virtue signalling?
  • What are the possible effects of this?

Discuss in the comments below please!

© University of York
This article is from the free online

Inclusive Learning for Students: Building inclusive practice into your life during higher education, and beyond

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education