Being a good and inclusive role model in any situation is incredibly important and especially online. We live in a world where online people can be “cancelled”, bullied and discriminated against without even a second thought. But social media can also be an amazing and impactful space if used correctly and responsibly. As a blogger the thought at the fore front of my mind is always how I can help others and make a difference in the world, even if it’s only a small one. As my passions have changed and grown so has my knowledge around inclusivity, accessibility and empowering others. I learnt the importance of captioning your Instagram stories, adding alt text to your photos, showing your real life and using your platform in an impactful way.
Here’s a guide of everything I’ve learnt so far that have helped me to become a better and more inclusive role model online…
CAPTION, CAPTION , CAPTION
I always get asked why I have captions on my Instagram stories and what the purpose of it is. 1 in 6 Australians are affected by hearing loss and we live in a world that is very digital based. For those with hearing loss videos, TV and movies are inaccessible unless there are captions available. Instagram stories are yet to have the automatic caption option (hey Instagram you need to get onto that!) luckily they are so easy to make accessible, you can either use the text option on stories to write out what your saying or purchase and download cliptomatic. Cliptomatic automatically captions your video as you talk and it records 60 second videos at a time. I always make sure to spell check the captions before saving as I talk fast so there is the occasional spelling error. Then you just save it to your camera roll and upload the videos to your Instagram stories. Please make sure to fully caption what your saying, only captioning highlights is just as exclusive as the viewer wont get to understand everything you are talking about.
On YouTube automatic captions have improved over time, but still are not reliable or always available. By taking the time to caption your own videos or paying someone to do it your are not only helping people be able to enjoy your content but you are also opening up a whole new demographic of supporters. YouTube has made a new option where you can allow your subscribers to caption your videos, so you can now help some of your favourite YouTubers make their videos more accessible. Through doing this it also gives the option for supporters to translate videos into different languages. If your favourite YouTuber dosen’t already have the community captions option why to email them and share about why its a benefit to have that option available? A lot of people are not yet educated on the importance of online accessibility and how they can do their part. Check out Jessica Kellgren-Fozard’s video “How To Caption Your Videos On YouTube [CC]” for more information on the different ways you can add closed captions to your YouTube videos. And Kat Blaque’s video “ How You Can Help YouTubers Caption Their Videos” for more information on allowing community captions and captioning other peoples videos.
BREAKING THE COMPARISON CYCLE
We all know that social media is a highlight reel but unfortunately that doesn’t stop us from comparing ourselves and our lives to others online. Social media is starting to be used for more impactful things and raising awareness which is amazing! But there is still this unknown pressure to post the “perfect” photos and captions. I love curating my feed. And planning photo shoots for my blog and Instagram content. It gives me the opportunity to get dressed up, try out different looks and get more creative with my photography. But I always make sure that my captions and Instagram stories show my real life and the struggles I face. Because i never want someone to go onto my account and leave feeling less than or thinking I have the “perfect life” and I’m sure you don’t either. Some great examples of creators breaking the comparison cycle are:
@kyliekatich ~ Kylie does an amazing job of showing the behind the scenes of her shoots and what really goes into her stunning photos. The majority of her photos have the option to swipe and see either her in that same moment, but in her real life or steps it took to achieve the photo you now see in her feed.
@alternatively.healthy ~ Asha shows both parts of her life beautifully within her feed. She shares the amazing shots of her all glammed up for events or at workshops she runs. But she also isn’t afraid to show no makeup workday selfies or the fabulous double chin shots we all send to our closest friends. Her stories and captions are overflowing with inspiration and positivity, but also showcases the real everyday struggles she faces like overwhelm or being in a funk. Her account really shows who Asha is which I love!
@officallyquigley ~ Quigley aka Casey’s photos truly are works of art, but she didn’t want her photos and curated feed to be a source of comparison. So she started utilising her captions to take on topics like getting through the dark times and getting past insecurities. Quigley also created a super cool hashtag #igvsrealme to help bring some more realness to her feed and others around the world. To take part in it you share an “Instagram worthy” photo and then a second photo that’s just a snap of you in your everyday life.
All of these girls are making waves in breaking the comparison cycle on Instagram. But what makes it even more special is they each do it in their own way that feel natural to them. It’s up to you to figure out how you want to incorporate content that will help break the comparison cycle into your own feed.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ALT TEXT
It’s estimated that there are currently 357,000 people in Australia who are blind or have low vision. Photography is a huge passion of mine, because i love that within a few seconds you can capture a memory so it lasts a lifetime. I can’t even imagine what it would be like not to be able to enjoy looking through photos let alone the beauty of the world around us. People with low vision or blindness may not be able to see the photos but through technology they now have access to screen readers that can describe photos in detail, through utilising alt text. Check out JC5 Productions video “Instagram For Blind People” to learn more about why it’s important to caption your photos. It includes a great example of a screen reader describing photos with and without Alt text.
ADDING ALT TEXT TO INSTAGRAM – It’s so easy to add alt text to your Instagram photos! After writing your regular photo caption go to the bottom of the screen and click advanced settings and then click write alt text. And add your photo description, the more detail you use the better. I start with describing the main focus of the photo, then the background and finally any other details down to the colour of my eyes or the style of jewellery I’m wearing. Once your finished click done and Instagram will save your description. Finally make sure you use the hashtags #alttextso those with visual impairments can easily find your photos. If you want to add alt text to a photo you have already have in your feed click the 3 dots in the top right corner, then click edit, finally on the bottom right corner click edit alt text.
ADDING ALT TEXT TO TWITTER – Alt text on Twitter for some strange reason is not automatic so to access photo descriptions on Twitter go to the settings and privacy. Then click accessibility and turn on compose image descriptions. Now when you upload photos on Twitter in the bottom left corner it will have the option to add description. If you click on that you can add your image description aka alt text. Make sure to be as descriptive as possible and use the hashtag #alttext.
These are such quick and simple additions you can make to your upload and content creation process. But it can be life changing for those who need the adaptions! The more of us that take the time to do it, the more accessible our digital world becomes.
USE YOUR INFLUENCE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Whether you have 1 follower or 1 million you have an influence and in impact, its up to you to make sure your are responsible with that and think about what your sharing. I love this whiteboard post I found on Instagram recently by @charlie its based on Influencers Vs Influential people. My biggest pet peeve is seeing so many big Influencers only share about money, possessions and looks. While smaller content creators that have a passion to make a difference are struggling to get their voice out there. Obviously not all Influencers are like this but a lot are and it’s giving everyone working in social media a bad rep. 1 of those accounts make people feel insecure and less then, you only have to read the comments to see that. Vs the other inspires, empowers and educates people and again you can easily see that in the comment section. Every time you post on social media you have a choice and an opportunity to make a difference in peoples lives. Don’t be afraid to share if you are passionate about living an eco friendly lifestyle, stamping out racism, bringing more support to those with mental health issues or bringing awareness to chronic illness. You don’t have to make your whole account dedicated to that topic but by sharing about it on your stories, in an IGTV video or in your feed and the importance of bringing awareness and what people can do to help. Through doing that you are making a difference in peoples lives, even if it just gets them thinking. And have fun with it, get creative with using photography to tell a story, write a poem or a song, design a GIF for Instagram Stories that everyone could use or a hashtag like Quigley did. I like to think of it like a ripple because it doesn’t matter how tiny the stone, the impact it makes on the water is way bigger and it’s the same with social media because you never know who you could help in the process.
~ How do you use your online presence to make a difference or impact peoples lives? And are there any other ways you make your social media more accessible? Comment down below, I’d love to know! Xx