Accessibility Guides Aim to Help Creators

Practical Tips Available for Videos, Websites and Social Media Posts

Woman sits in front of plants with purple flowers, taking a photo with her cell phone.
Alt text, which describes the contents of a photo or graphic to people who cannot see it, is important for web and social media, guides from Strategic Communications say. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Every video, social media post and website shared online should be accessible to everyone who wants to view it, and the Office of Strategic Communications is helping make that reality across the university with a series of new guides published online.


The guides provide best practices, definitions, do’s and don’ts and more for multiple digital media.

“As communicators, we all want to ensure as many people can interact with our content as possible, whether it takes the form of a written article, a video or a tweet, and following the best practices for accessibility makes that possible,” said Karla Fung, interim director of social media for Strategic Communications. “Not only is making our content easily accessible the right thing to do, as members of a public university it’s the law.”

State law sets forth accessibility guidelines for public institutions.

Social media: Platform-specific tips

Because social media platforms vary in their features like alt text — information that describes an image or video to people cannot see it — the social media guide includes a comparison of the tools available on each major social media platform. For example, alt text can be added to images uploaded to Twitter or Facebook, but not Reddit.

“We are providing general guidelines because social media platforms do not always have simple instructions and functions for creating accessible content,” the guide states.

Separate guides are also available for those interested in learning more about using major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and more.

Some of the other items explained in the accessibility guide include:

The guide will continue to evolve and is meant to help people beyond UC Davis, members of the social media team said.

“This is the first phase for our team, as we prioritized providing general accessibility guidelines so that anyone can utilize them as they post across almost any channel,” said Teddi Tostanoski, Undergraduate Admissions social media manager. “This guide is another example of UC Davis’ open and inclusive spirit, and I hope it’s useful both on campus and beyond.”

Video: Caption conundrum

All videos published online should have captions for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing, but there are several different ways to create captions, the video guide states, noting: “Yes, it can be confusing!”

The guide explains the differences between closed captions, which can be switched on and off, and open captions, which are permanently displayed with the video.

It also spells out ways to position text on screen, as well as provides tips for creating video descriptions for users who cannot see videos.

In addition to the accessibility guide, Strategic Communications’ visual communications team has updated its broader best practices webpage to add information about considering inclusivity and authenticity when creating video content. More in-depth information about best practices for visual inclusivity is forthcoming.

Web: Alt text, SEO, headings and more

Similar guidelines for creating accessible webpages were published last fall by Strategic Communications’ web team. That guide provides tips on the use of alt text and search engine optimization, the proper order of headings and more.

Other tips included in that guide:

  • Avoid flashing imagery because it can trigger seizures.
  • Alt text isn’t needed for decorative images that “beautify a page but don’t add information to the story or webpage.”
  • Anchor links and links that open in new tabs can be disorienting.
  • Link text should describe where the link is leading; links should say more than just “read more” or “click here.”

Media Resources

Cody Kitaura is a News and Media Relations Specialist in the Office of Strategic Communications, and can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.

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