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Creating an Accessible Instagram Post

General Post Guidelines

  • Select post images that have no or minimal text in them
  • Edit Instagram's machine-generated alternative text to provide more detailed descriptions that also give context to the photo
  • Use the post's description area to add alternative text to caption video posts
  • Don't use decorative text in your post caption
  • Put hashtags in the first comment rather than in the post caption
  • Avoid using gifs
  • Limit emojiis
  • Avoid using Instagram Live

Use Images with Minimal Text

Example of a Bad Image with Text

This Instagram image has more text than is recommended.

Instead, move the supporting text to the caption text on your post and remove it from your image.

Too much text example

Example of Acceptable Image with Text
This image has minimal text in it.

This Instagram post image would be acceptable and the event information would be written as plain text in the post's caption.

Ok amount of text example

If you must include text in your Instagram post's image be sure to include ALL text displayed in the image as the post's caption OR add in an alternative text.

Add in alternative text to your images but make sure they aren't redundant with the post caption.

How to add alternative text:

  1. Create an Instagram post by taking or uploading a photo to your account.
  2. Select “Advanced Settings” at the bottom of the page where you traditionally type your photo caption.
  3. Below “Turn Off Commenting” you’ll see an option to “Write Alt Text” when you can input your own description of your photo.

Include captions in your Stories/Reels.

Instagram Stories are a great way to directly engage with your audience. Before you share your video, you should add in captions to your story.

Option 1: Manually Type a Summary

Use the text feature to write out a summary of your Story/Reel. It doesn’t have to be a word-for-word transcript since space on the screen is an issue but include enough information so that any person tapping through stories doesn’t have to rely on audio to know what you are saying. This method will help all users enjoy your content and can consume the content at their own pace.

Option 2: Turn on Captions

Please note: this feature is only available for the English language at this time.
After creating your Story/reel...

  1. Select the Sticker icon on your Story/Reel.
  2. Select the captions icon in the Sticker menu.
  3. Your Story's audio will automatically be transcribed by an AI into captions.
  4. Check your content before posting! Use your finger click on the automated captions. Once selected, you should be abled to scroll through the automated caption transcript to check for any errors word-by-word.
    • Click on words to fix misspellings or incorrect words - your keyboard should open and you can adjust the content manually. 
  5. Select your font. caption font icons There are several font options for Captions and additionally allow for modifying the colors of the text, just like manually creating text on a story. Make sure your text to background colors are a high contrast - black and white combos of text and background colors will be the most accessible for all users.

Put hashtags in your comments instead of post.

Hashtags can be problematic for screen readers. If you are adding in a lot of hashtags to your Instagram post, try putting them in the first comment of your post instead of the post itself. Instagram's algorithm will still pick up the hashtags but they aren’t picked up by the screen reader unless that user chooses to read the comments on your post.

Don’t use decorative fonts in profile or captions.

decorative font example

Decorative fonts are unfortunately 100% INACCESSIBLE to screen readers. When you use them on Instagram (or other social media areas), one of two things will happen - The screen reader will be silent when “reading” those words and only share what you have written in the native font or you will get some illogical sounding string of words. It is best to skip decorative fonts all together.

Avoid GIFs or post context for animated GIFs.

At this time, the animated GIF format has either very limited or no accessibility support on most social media platforms. This makes the animated GIF content difficult for individuals who rely on screen readers to perceive. Therefore, you should not rely solely on animated GIF content in a social media post. When using animated GIFs, confirm that the post can be understood through its text content alone. 

Limit emojis and emoticons.

Emojis displayed on a screen will be described by a screen reader. The 😊 emoji, for example, will be read aloud as “smiling face with smiling eyes.” Please be considerate of screen reader users by using emojis sparingly and by placing spaces between them. 

It is not advised to create emoticons with text and are suggested to be avoided. In this example, this visual experience of “shruggie” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ will be read aloud by a screen reader as: “Macron, backslash, underline, katakana, underline, slash, macron.”

Instagram Live Guidelines:

Instagram Live is unfortunately not an accessible medium as there is no good way to add in live captions to the feature. If you need to do a live video you will need to use an alternative product, like Zoom, and request to get it live captioned by emailing