Is Social Media Accessible?

Featured Image: 
Photo of a smart phone's home screen with Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and more icons.

Social media is important to students - including students with visual impairments. Social media is a convenient way to access information, provide information and communicate. Social media is a network, a place to gain knowledge and an important way for graduates to increase their networks and to connect with potential jobs. There are numerous articles about the benefits of social media. Listed below are a three articles:

Educators are using social media platforms; educational youtube videos are being used with students of all ages. Can students with visual impairments or blindness access social media platforms? Social media platforms are typically based on photos and/or video clips. Just how accessible are these platforms?

Alice Pennington, who is totally blind, reviews Snapchat, Instagram, and Youtube. Read her review, How accessible are photo and video sharing services if you have a visual impairment.


Snapchat is a free mobile messaging service that sends a photo or video to someone that typically last about 10 seconds before disappearing.

Note: The person uploading the picture or video can choose to add the image to a storyline (available to friends for 24 hours) or choose the Infinite Time option. The receiver can also take a picture of the screen in order to view the image longer. For viewers who are visually impaired, these are beneficial features. 

Read more information about using Snapchat with low vision here.


Instagram is a free, online photo-sharing application and social network platform acquired by Facebook in 2012. Instagram allows users to edit and upload photos and short videos through a mobile app.


Youtube is a free video-hosting website that allows members to watch videos posted by other users and to upload their own videos. YouTube was acquired by Google in 2006.

Some Youtube videos have enough verbal descriptions and sound clues for a person who is visually impaired to fully understand. Some Youtube videos are very visual without descriptions; making them inaccessible for a person with visual impairments. Anyone can add audio descriptions to any Youtube video using YouDescribe.

Directions on how to audio describe a Youtube video.

Youtube automatically created closed captioning for the hearing impaired. To turn on the closed captioning, simple select CC button located at the bottom right side of the video. You can access the text transcript by selecting the More button (three dots) at the bottom right side of the Youtube video. The transcript can be copied and pasted into a Word document. Note: Transcripts are automatically generated and should be proof read!

Watch Tommy Edison's video, How blind people use Youtube and Twitter on the iPhone. Note: This video is several years old; however, it shows how accessible YouTube and Twitter are using VoiceOver.

What about artificial intelligence (AI) being used to describe images on Facebook? Read more about artificial intellligence and images in the article:

A blind Facebook engineer is solving one of the biggest problems on the internet: figuring otu what's in images and videos