One of the great advances in hotel design has been the inclusion of accessible facilities on property for all guests. Yes, it is a law, but it is also the right thing to do. As an extension of that best practice in architecture, the social media experts at BCV have written a detailed white paper on ADA Compliance in social media.
Ensuring that all communities have access to messaging and brand content is a critical area of consideration for marketing and communications planning. Understanding the tools available across media types and how to integrate them can assist brands with developing equity across audiences, enveloping those who have sensory impairments or belong to the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind, Visually Impaired, or other communities.
Specific to social media, the platforms themselves largely control accessibility and the user experience, with Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat each featuring different capabilities. Unlike a website user’s experience that can be informed by backend development, brands do not have the access to change how a social platform integrates accessible features. However, brands can make use of the available tools and features provided by each platform to provide a thoughtful experience to as many audiences as possible.
Although social media is a controlled, third-party platform, there are certain steps that marketers can take to align a brand’s social presence – and a user’s experience – with ADA Compliant policies. Below are a few best practices that BCV recommends in order for brands to put their best foot forward in the world of ADA compliance and accessibility.
Accessible Communication. Ensure business information is clearly listed and easily found across social pages to facilitate clear communication between your brand and people who may have questions and concerns regarding your accessibility accommodations.
Written Messaging. In order to provide more accessibility for audiences who are within the deaf or hard of hearing community, it is important to ensure your content messaging comes through in instances of videos with audio. When posting videos, if closed captioning is available on the platform, this can be an efficient way to provide accessibility to more people. Certain platforms have taken initiative in this regard and added automated captioning functions. If unavailable, spoken copy within the video should be echoed in the caption of the video to provide context. Here are some examples of platforms that streamlined closed captions options:
Hashtag Capitalization. Capitalizing each word in a multi-word hashtag allows for easier recognition by text-to-speech programs. For example, #solotravel may be harder for a program to read, while #SoloTravel will have much higher visibility.
High Color Contrast. Graphics and video should be designed with color contrast in mind; Font and imagery should be selected to provide high contrast for visibility and to assist with readability. The fonts themselves should be clearly legible and large.
Emojis in Moderation. Emojis are not text-to-speech friendly, and therefore should be used in moderation, reserved for times when they have clear value-add, or are held until the end of captions. Also, refrain from using emojis to replace words; This can cause confusion for someone listening to your content read aloud.
For additional opportunities by platform, please see our resource guide, below.
Brands can remind their communities that accessibility is a priority through messaging and content decisions. Additional ways to connect with travelers with disabilities may be:
Social media is an important tool for consumers to research the brands they want to do business with. One important question people with disabilities ask is: “Is traveling with this brand possible for me?” There are many brands that are proud of their efforts when it comes to accessibility at their properties, including accessible rooms, amenities, and accommodations. The labor afforded to make these offerings possible should be swiftly supplemented by clear descriptions on the brand website, as well as social messaging.
People with disabilities often have extensive social networks, especially within communities of people with disabilities. And depending on the individual, people with disabilities are more likely to travel with at least one other person. One good review has the potential to lead to extensive recommendations from them to their friends and family, who may also have disabilities.
Aligning social media pages with ADA compliance requirements is valuable to travel brands, most importantly because it builds a company community that supports and includes everybody and every experience. Social media is one of the top tools consumers use to research and evaluate brands, and BCV believes that brands with social media infrastructure to reach people with disabilities are setting themselves up as professionals of inclusion and thoughtful consideration.