How To Make Your Instagram More Accessible

The Instagram logo.

Toward the end of 2018, Instagram made strides to make their platform more accessible for those who are visually impaired. This is important as more than 285 million people in the world have a visual impairment, and Instagram is one of the biggest platforms in the world.

Instagram has added two new ways for screen readers to read photos. They’ve added an automatic alternative text, which enables people to hear descriptions through their screen reader when a person uses their Instagram. The automatic alternative text uses object recognition technology to generate a description of the photo. Instagram has also introduced custom alternative text where you can go in and add your own description to your photos.

How To Add Alt Text When Uploading:

Alt text can be added to photos during the publishing step.

  1. After you select your filter, click on ‘Next.’
  2. Tap on Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap ‘Write Alt Text’ and input a description of your photo. 

A screenshot of how to get to the Advanced Settings on Instagram.

A screenshot showing where to click, 'Write Alt Text,' on Instagram.

 

A screenshot showing a user where to write their alt text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Add Alt Text To Existing Photos:

Alt text can also be added to existing photos in these easy steps.

  1. Go to a photo and select the three-dot menu icon and click on ‘Edit.’
  2. On the corner of your photo will be the words, ‘Alt Text.’ Click on it and then write your description

A screenshot of how to find 'Alt Text' on a Instagram photo you've published.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A screenshot that shows readers how to add alt text to their existing photos on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


All and all, we believe it’s better to write your own text than rely on the automatic alt text, as your own written descriptions will likely be more accurate. 

How Are People Responding?

The alt text feature is still not present in Instagram Stories. The Royal National Institute of Blind People, a British nonprofit, tweeted congrats when the news broke on Twitter, but advised Instagram to make the feature work in Stories. Instagram Stories is just as popular as scrolling and exploring the platform. About 40% of the platform’s 1 billion users post to their Story every day

In the same article, a software engineer at the BBC, Louise Taylor, said they wished finding the alt text option was easier.

The other thing we wish could be changed is the number of characters you’re allowed to use. Right now, users have a 100 character limit on alt text. Maybe one day it will expand – until recently, Twitter had a 140 character limit. But now you can type up to 280 characters.

What Does Alt Text Mean For Businesses?

It is unclear for how long object identification has been around on Instagram, but there’s no denying it will be useful for advertising if it isn’t already.

Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has had artificial intelligence-generated alternative text since April 2016.

When reporters asked an Instagram spokesperson why accessibility has taken so long, they replied the features have been “an ongoing project for some time.” They also added, “the challenge was ensuring that we could provide valuable descriptions at scale.” What this means is that while advanced artificial intelligence can recognize what’s in a photo, it has a hard time understanding what’s important. The spokesperson also addressed because Instagram is a very visual platform, this is why it took two and a half years longer than Facebook to roll out accessibility features.

Do you need help making your business’ online presence more accessible to those who are visually impaired? At Sperling Interactive, we build websites that are ADA compliant. Call us today to learn more about our company. 

Why Instagram’s Founders Left Facebook + The New Head Of The Company

An iPhone with the Instagram app open. On September 24, 2018, Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, and co-founder, Mike Krieger announced they are resigning from Facebook.

“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do,” Systrom said in a statement.

Instagram was founded on October 6, 2010. On April 9, 2012, Systrom and Krieger sold their 13-person start-up to Facebook for $1 billion. At the time, Instagram had 30 million monthly users. Earlier this summer, the photo sharing app hit 1 billion users.

Many news outlets are reporting there was tension brimming amongst the Instagram founders and Facebook’s founder/CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, over the direction for Instagram.

“We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion. We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next,” Strosberg addressed in his statement.  

In a separate statement, Zuckerberg said, “Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.” With Strosberg and Krieger, Zuckerberg now has total reign of the platform.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal a day after his resignation, Strosberg stated, “the whole idea of joining Facebook was that we could scale way more quickly than we could independently.” Maybe the platform scaled larger than either he or Krieger would have liked.

Adam Mosseri, who used to head Facebook’s newsfeed, was named Instagram’s head of product earlier this year, and when the news broke that Strosberg and Krieger were leaving, many speculated he would be the top candidate to run the platform. On October 1, 2018, Mosseri was named head of the platform. Mosseri has been with Facebook since 2008. 

“To us, the important thing is keeping our community-all of you- front and center in all that Instagram does. We believe that Adam will hold true to these values and Instagram will continue to thrive” Strosberg and Krieger said in a new statement. 

A related article from the Los Angeles Times reminds us that “founders departing is nothing new in the tech industry. Apple and Microsoft have both continued to thrive without Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, namely because the companies had already matured.” With that, we can expect Instagram will continue to be a popular platform even with the founders removed from it.

What do you think Instagram will be like now that its founders are no longer involved with its development? Let us know in the comments.