Facebook Accessibility for Users & Content Creators

Understanding Key Facebook Accessibility Settings and Features

As a whole, we are more online today than ever. Some may still resist the siren song of social media, but most don’t, and many of us have not really “logged off” for longer than we can remember, not including platform crashes or internet outages. In fact, billions of people use the most popular platforms, on every kind of device as yet known. With 4.70 billion human beings around the globe using some form of social media, Facebook alone has slightly more than 3 billion users as of 2024, with 3.24 billion daily active users thumbing through their feeds, sharing, liking, and laugh or cry reacting. While other social media platforms have been busily starting up and engaging their own user bases, Facebook remains a classic and very popular form of social interaction online. Its format lends itself easily to connecting with friends and family, posting and sharing photos from sunsets to smoothies to selfies, and to finding news items both fake and real. Facebook opens up the world to so many people. But what happens when some of those people can’t access the news, information and connections that Facebook and other social media platforms have to offer? A fair percentage of those billions of users have some form of disability. And while platforms have been steadily improving their accessibility options and features, not all content is accessible.


Web & Digital Accessibility: Unlocking Social Media For Everyone

Web and digital accessibility refers to the design and development of online content and interfaces that can be readily navigated, understood, and engaged with by everyone, regardless of their ability. This includes people with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive impairments. The goal of web and digital accessibility in a social media context is to prevent or remove barriers that block some users from using the platform entirely, or from using it to its full potential. Everyone should have equal access to information and technology. Just as physical spaces have ramps and elevators so everyone can enter and participate, digital spaces need to be accessible to users with disabilities.

When social media content is not accessible, it can have a significant negative impact. People with disabilities are excluded from the conversations and connections happening online. This is a loss not just for the individuals who are unable to access the content, but also for the content creators themselves, as well as any sponsoring businesses that may work with them. Social media exists to reach an audience and build community; inaccessible content cuts off a significant portion of potential viewers and followers.

Facebook's Commitment to Accessibility

Facebook has both expressed and demonstrated that it is committed to making its platform accessible to users with disabilities. While there is always room for improvement, Facebook has implemented numerous tools and features aimed at improving accessibility. The platform continuously develops updates and improvements to help keep the Facebook environment accessible, so that users with disabilities can navigate and use the site effectively.

Facebook’s Built-In Accessibility Tools

Currently, Facebook offers the below options as part of its included accessibility settings and features:

  • Screen Reader Support
    Facebook is compatible with screen readers, which convert text to audible speech or Braille for users who are blind or have low vision.
  • Automatic Alt Text
    This feature uses object recognition technology to provide text descriptions of photos for users who are blind or have low vision.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts
    Facebook includes keyboard shortcuts for users who find it difficult or uncomfortable to use a mouse.
  • Closed Captions
    Videos on Facebook can include automatically generated closed captions, which are helpful for users who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Text Size Adjustment
    Users can adjust the text size on their Facebook feed to improve readability. This is available under Facebook Settings > Appearance > Customize Fonts.

End users can customize their Facebook experience to meet their individual needs using the settings and features above. These and other settings are available in the platform’s accessibility menu, where users can also find and activate Facebook accessibility features such as screen readers and keyboard shortcuts. By personalizing these settings, users can navigate Facebook in a way that best suits their personal preferences and requirements.

  • Contrast Adjustment: External Only & Device-Specific
    Note that while contrast adjustment is a valuable accessibility setting, it is not available in Faceook settings. Instead, Facebook recommends using individual device settings to change contrast. This is not included in Facebook settings, so contrast and brightness settings will apply to all content displayed on your screen.

Optimizing Accessibility: Top, Bottom & Middle Layers

a person using facebook with accessibility features enabled

Facebook has made significant strides in providing more and better accessibility options for all users, including those with disabilities. This is part of their responsibility as a global enterprise, and it is also legally required in many places. The features and options Facebook has included are available platform-wide. That’s the top-down accessibility option, where many kinds of accessibility become available to everyone as a default, or as an easy add-on. From the user end, or from what we can consider bottom-up, there are multiple ways to activate and enjoy the use of Facebook accessibility features, sometimes in ways that are customizable per user.

In the center of this social media totem pole, content creators are in some ways the most powerful players of all, in the accessibility they can add to the content they create and share.

Start Off Right: Creating Accessible Content

There are several basic steps creators can take to make their Facebook content more inclusive for users with disabilities. Here are some high-level guidelines:

  • Write Clearly And Concisely
    When writing text for posts, avoid jargon and overly complex language. Use a straightforward writing style that is easy to understand.
  • Closed Captions For Videos
    Videos can be a powerful tool, but they are inaccessible for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Use closed captions to provide a text transcript of the audio content.
  • Consider Color Contrast
    To offer more readable content, make sure there is enough contrast between text and background colors, especially when text is included in an image or video. Bright white text on a dark background, or black text on a white background are optimal, but checking that your color choices match accepted contrast pairs is generally best practice. This is especially important when text is overlaid on an image-based background: in that case, whenever possible, it’s a good idea to add a contrasting color block behind the text.
  • Use Alt Text For Images
    Images are a common way to engage viewers on Facebook. However, people who use screen readers cannot understand the content of an image without alternative text descriptions. This goes double for images that include text embedded in the visuals, which really goes against accessibility guidelines. When using these images can’t be avoided, the text inside the image should be duplicated and added in to the image’s alt text or as an image caption. You can use Facebook’s automatically generated alt text, or add your own.

Content Creation Using Facebook-Native Accessibility Options

For content creators working with Facebook’s built-in accessibility features, leverage the automated options and don’t forget to add your own customized options and choices.

  • Review Automatic Text Suggestions
    Facebook automatically generates alternative text, also known as alt text, to provide descriptions for uploaded images. While these can be a helpful starting point, it's important to review them for accuracy.

    For example, an automated alt description for an image might not recognize a rounded item as a bell, and instead will tag it as a hat. This is not helpful to users who can’t see the visuals and are counting on the alt text to tell them what’s in the picture. There’s a reason visual Captchas still ask users which part of an image has a boat: even the best automatic image recognition can miss details or misunderstand context.
  • Be More Specific & Include Context
    A good alt text description should convey the essential information in the image. For example, instead of simply writing “dog”, write up an image description that briefly tells users that there is a Golden Retriever pulling a sled with happy children, or that a rescue dog is sniffing out people to rescue after an earthquake.
  • Eliminate Text Redundancy
    Check that the alt text does not repeat information already included in the post's text.
  • Enable Closed Captions
    Facebook offers built-in closed captioning for video and live streams. This feature allows viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing to follow along with the audio portion of the broadcast. Once again, as an automated tool, this is very useful and budget-friendly, and it should be enabled as a minimum accessibility option, but it won’t accurately capture all audio. However, for live streaming, it’s often the best available option.
  • Accessible Interaction
    Use accessible methods for viewer interaction, such as allowing questions via text or Messenger that can be read out loud during the stream.
  • Describe Visual Content
    When presenting visual content during a live stream, provide a verbal description of what is being shown on the screen. This provides Facebook accessibility viewers who are blind or have low vision, offering a way for them to stay engaged with the content.
  • Consider Sign Language Interpretation
    For a truly inclusive experience, some creators may choose to provide sign language interpretation for their live streams. There are services that can connect creators with qualified sign language interpreters.

Building In Accessible Interactions For Facebook Content

Here are three more ways content creators can offer accessible ways for all users to interact with Facebook content:

  • Accessible Polling Features
    Facebook polls are a great way to engage viewers, but they can be inaccessible for people who use screen readers or other assistive technologies. When creating polls, be sure to use clear and concise question wording, and avoid using complex language or jargon. And, be sure to provide alt text descriptions for any images included in the poll.
  • Accessible Reaction Options
    Facebook reactions allow viewers to express their feelings about a post. However, some reaction icons may not be easily understandable for people with visual impairments. To address this, consider using text descriptions alongside the reaction icons, clarifying the meaning of each reaction.
  • Clear, Descriptive Link Titles
    When sharing links in Facebook posts, use clearly descriptive link titles. This helps users with screen readers understand the content of the linked page, so they can decide if they want to follow the link.

Accommodating User Inquiries & Accessibility Feedback

Are the options and features you have implemented doing enough to improve accessibility for your content?

Monitoring comments on Facebook content is a great way to identify accessibility issues, and it’s an excellent opportunity to engage with your users and better understand all their needs, accessibility-related and otherwise. Content creators should regularly check comments for feedback related to accessibility. If a viewer asks a question about accessibility, respond promptly and in a helpful manner. Consider pinning informative comments about accessibility features to the top of the comment thread, making this information easy to find for all viewers.

In addition to comments, Facebook offers a few built-in feedback mechanisms that content creators can leverage:

  • Facebook Group Discussions
    For creators who manage Facebook groups, consider creating a dedicated discussion thread focused on accessibility. This allows viewers to ask questions, share suggestions, and give feedback in a centralized location.
  • Q&A Sessions
    Facebook Live offers a Q&A feature that allows viewers to submit questions in real-time. During a live stream, dedicate some time to addressing accessibility-related questions from viewers.
  • Accessibility Surveys
    Create and share surveys specifically designed to gather feedback on your content’s accessibility. These surveys can be linked in posts or the page’s about section, making it easy for users to provide detailed input on their experience. 
  • Feedback Forms
    Add a feedback form to your Facebook page, where users can submit their accessibility concerns. Forms can be customized to include specific questions about different aspects of accessibility, for more comprehensive feedback.

By implementing these strategies, content creators can create a more inclusive environment on Facebook, allowing all users to interact fully with the content and providing valuable insights for continuous improvement.

Facebook’s Accessibility Partnerships

Facebook collaborates with various accessibility advocacy organizations to improve the platform's usability for people with disabilities. These partnerships involve:

Research & Development
Facebook works with accessibility organizations to understand the specific needs of users with different disabilities. This collaboration helps inform the design and development of new accessibility features.

Targeted User Testing
Accessibility advocacy organizations help recruit people with disabilities to test Facebook's features and identify areas for improvement. This is extremely valuable, as users with disabilities run into accessibility obstacles that other types of testing may not identify.

Feedback & Guidance
Accessibility organizations provide ongoing feedback on Facebook's accessibility efforts, helping make the platform inclusive for all users.

Facebook actively collaborates with multiple accessibility advocacy organizations to achieve these and other accessibility optimization goals. These partnerships involve regular consultations with experts and user groups to identify areas for improvement. By engaging with organizations that advocate for people with disabilities, Facebook gains valuable insights into the specific needs and challenges these users face. This collaborative approach helps Facebook develop and implement effective accessibility features that address real-world issues and contribute to building a more inclusive online environment.

Facebook’s Platform-Wide Accessibility Efforts

Facebook is constantly working to improve its accessibility features, and has introduced several updates to improve accessibility, including improved screen reader support and automated alt text descriptions for images, adding accessibility for users who are blind or who have low vision, and offering automated real-time captions for live streams, to make them accessible for viewers who are Deaf or hard of hearing. The platform has also updated its automatic alt text feature to provide more accurate descriptions of images, and continues to work on updating automated accessibility options to improve accuracy and availability, using new technologies including AI as they come online. These updates aim to make Facebook more navigable and user-friendly for people with disabilities.

Facebook plans to continue its focus on accessibility by incorporating more advanced technologies. Future updates may include simple improvements such as better keyboard navigation, as well as more complex solutions such as integration with third-party technologies, and the inclusion of AI-driven accessibility tools that provide real-time assistance for users with disabilities. Facebook is also exploring options for enhanced voice control features and better support for assistive technologies. These future plans reflect Facebook's commitment to ongoing improvement and innovation in accessibility.

WCAG & Facebook Accessibility

WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: it's a set of internationally recognized guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to improve web accessibility for people with disabilities. These guidelines provide recommendations to help make web content accessible following its POUR principles, where all web and digital content and interfaces are understood to be accessible when they are made perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

Facebook aligns its interface, features and options with WCAG guidelines to meet global accessibility standards, and to follow localized laws around accessibility. The platform regularly updates its design and functionality to comply with these guidelines, focusing on making content accessible to all users. By adhering to WCAG standards, Facebook helps guarantee that its platform is maximally usable for individuals with a wide range of disabilities.

In the United States, web and digital accessibility for websites, applications, online content and digital interfaces is required by law. Regulations under the The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) do require compliance with accessibility standards that are built on the foundation of the WCAG. Other laws and regulations apply to different sectors within the United States, such as all agencies and divisions of the federal government. And, similar standards based on the WCAG are in use and are enforced as legal requirements in many countries around the world.

Facebook is required to adhere to standards of ADA accessibility compliance, and by and large, it does so.

Accessibility Audits

Regular accessibility audits are an important part of maintaining the accessibility of Facebook's interface and functionality and its overall compliance with accessibility standards and regulations. These audits involve testing the platform using a variety of tools and techniques to identify and address any accessibility barriers that might prevent users with disabilities from fully interacting with the platform. Accessibility experts conduct these audits, providing valuable insights into how Facebook can improve its platform for users with disabilities. The findings from these audits guide Facebook in making necessary adjustments and updates to better provide real and useful accessibility, to create an inclusive experience for all users.

By prioritizing these practices, Facebook continues to work towards an accessible digital environment, setting a strong example for other social media platforms.

It is important to note that for websites, an accessibility audit reviews and assesses accessibility for all content and functionality. For a social media platform like Facebook, however, such reviews and their resulting reports can only include findings and recommendations for the platform itself. For groups, pages, and other user content, the responsibility for accessibility rests with the group or page administrator and the content creators alone.

Facebook Accessibility Resources & Support

Here are some online resources dedicated to Facebook accessibility that can be helpful to Facebook users and content creators:

  • Facebook Accessibility Help Center: This official resource provides comprehensive information on Facebook's accessibility features, how to use them, and offers troubleshooting tips. It covers a range of topics, including screen reader compatibility, keyboard shortcuts, and customizable settings.
  • W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI): This website provides general information and resources on web accessibility, which can be applied to Facebook and other online platforms.
  • The NYC Mayor’s Office For People With Disabilities provides a clear, simple accessibility guideline PDF document with some best practices and other advice for creating accessible content.
  • Facebook Accessibility Groups: Multiple Facebook groups provide a space where users and content creators can share tips, ask questions, and provide feedback on accessibility features. The groups are sometimes moderated by Facebook staff who can provide updates and assistance.
  • Online Forums: Online forums offer community-based discussions, which can be useful for people navigating a disability and the accessibility accommodations they may need. The Reddit r/Blind forum, for example, is an excellent place to find information on accessibility options in many situations, including online and on social media platforms, including Facebook.

Accessing Facebook's Help Center & Reporting Accessibility Issues

Here's how to access Facebook's Help Center for additional support and to report issues with the accessibility of Facebook functions, visual designs, navigation and more:

  1. Go to the Facebook Help Center.
  2. In the search bar, type in a keyword or phrase related to your accessibility question or concern.
  3. If you can't find what you're looking for using the search bar, browse categories by topic.
  4. To report a Facebook accessibility issue, scroll down to the bottom of the Help Center page and click “Report a Problem.”
  5. Follow the on-screen prompts to submit your report.
  6. Check your email for any follow-up messages from Facebook support. They may contact you for more information or to update you on the status of your report.

By reporting accessibility issues, you can help Facebook identify and address accessibility issues.

Fair & Equal Accessibility On Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms have become key centers for communication, sharing information, and building communities. Creating a digital environment on the web, especially for social media platforms, that is both accessible and inclusive is essential for supporting fair access and equal rights for people with disabilities.

Accessible features on these platforms are not technical details or an add-on option. For people with disabilities, they are necessary and basic. These features allow them to connect with others, participate in online groups, and experience the online world. By focusing on accessibility, social media platforms can strengthen the position of people with disabilities and build welcoming digital spaces that include considerations and accommodations for the diverse needs of everyone online.


Are there any legal requirements for social media platforms like Facebook to be accessible?

Accessibility requirements can vary depending on location. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States is one example of legislation that may apply to social media platforms operating in certain circumstances. Check local laws and regulations that may apply to your geographic location, and to the locations served by a website, web application, or social media platform. These laws generally apply based on the users served.

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