How do I make posts more accessible to blind people on Mastodon and the Fediverse?

There are a lot of people on Mastodon and the Fediverse who use screen readers to convert text into audio, including blind people, partially sighted people and those with many other disabilities. There are five easy things abled people can do to help screen readers work better with what they’ve posted:

  • When posting an image or video, click on the “edit” or “caption” button (or write directly on top of the image on some apps) and then add a text description of what is visible. Read it to yourself afterwards, and see if you are able to imagine the important parts of the picture from what you have written. When you’ve finished, remember to click the “Apply” button if if necessary.
  • When posting hashtags, use CamelCase (where each word begins with a capital letter), for example #DogsOfMastodon instead of #dogsofmastodon. The capital letters allow screen reader apps to separate the words correctly and read the hashtag out loud properly.
  • Don’t do that “sarcastic text” thing where you make fun of someone by having random letters as capitals, because random capitals prevent a screen reader from working properly.
  • If you’re sighted and you see the hashtag #Alt4Me underneath an image post, it means a blind person wants you to write a description of the image. Reply to the post with the tag and give them the description.
  • Also, if you’re a sighted person and you see a remarkable image that doesn’t have a descrption and no one has requested one yet, be pro-active and reply with a description using the tag #Alt4You which will let blind people find your description more easily.

Note that sometimes an image may have no description but there is an #Alt4Me tag added to it by the poster. It may be that the poster is unable to add a description (for example due to having a disability themselves), but is aware that one is needed so they have pre-emptively added the tag.

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