How to Add Alt Text to Your Instagram Posts (and Why You Should)

Imagine you’re scrolling through Instagram but can’t clearly see what’s on each post. Would you rather not use the app at all? Of course not. That’s the reality of at least 2.2 billion people worldwide with a near or distant visual impairment.

But they shouldn’t be left out of the fun on Instagram because of it. In this article, we’ll show you how to add alt text to your Instagram posts, so you can accommodate the visually impaired. Let’s jump right in.

What Is Alt Text?

Man thinking and staring at computer

People with a visual impairment can’t clearly see what’s in an Instagram or social media post. That’s where alt text comes in. It describes what’s on a picture in words, making it easy for a screen reader to read it to the visually impaired.

Sometimes referred to as text-to-speech, screen readers are a form of assistive technology that reads digital content out loud to those with visual impairments.

That’s why it’s important to accurately describe, using alt text, what’s on an image. If an image doesn’t load for whatever reason, alt text will be displayed in its place.

Alt text is also indexed by search engines like Google. So, if you want your content to rank higher in Google Search, be intentional about adding alt text to your images.

Why Add Alt Text to Your Instagram Posts?

In November 2018, Instagram added an alt text feature to make the app more accessible to people with visual impairments. Though you may not be directly exposed to them, the visually impaired also use Instagram, and they might be coming across your content.

That’s why it’s important that you make your posts accessible to them, so they can get an idea of what’s on them. Examples of visual impairments include blindness and low vision. The point of alt text is to not alienate people with any form of visual impairment.

Instagram also has an automatic alt text feature, which relies on technology to identify and describe what’s in the photo. However, this is known to be inaccurate and confusing to the visually impaired. That’s why it’s best to add your own alt text if you care about catering to them.

How to Add Alt Text to a New Instagram Post

There are two ways to add alt text to your Instagram post—when creating a post and after it’s been published (an existing post). Let’s start with adding alt text to a new Instagram post.

  1. Open the Instagram app on your phone.
  2. Start uploading or capturing a photo by tapping the Plus icon at the top of the screen.
  3. Edit the photo as you normally would.
  4. Tap Next on iPhone or the Arrow icon on Android until you get to the last step (before uploading the photo).
  5. Scroll down and tap Advanced Settings.
  6. Go to the Accessibility section and tap Add alt text.
  7. Type the alt text in the text box to describe what’s in the picture you’re uploading.
  8. When you’re finished, tap Done on iPhone or the Checkmark icon on Android.

That’s it. Once that’s done, you can finish uploading your image.

How to Add Alt Text to an Existing Instagram Post

Say you forgot to add alt text to an Instagram post while uploading. Or you didn’t know the feature existed until you read this article, so you want to go back and add it to your existing posts. Follow the steps below.

  1. Go to the post you want to add alt text to.
  2. Tap the three-dot Menu above the post.
  3. Now tap Edit, followed by Edit Alt Text in the bottom-right corner of the image.
  4. Edit the text in the text box, then tap Done (iPhone) or the Checkmark icon (Android). Tap the same icon again to save your changes.

Tips for Adding Alt Text to Your Instagram Posts

The thought of adding alt text to your Instagram posts shouldn’t be daunting or discouraging. After all, it’s not like adding a caption. The text you add shouldn’t be long-winded and confusing. Keep it short, simple, and—most importantly—accurate.

Keep in mind that the person making use of a screen reader is trying to understand what’s happening in the picture. It shouldn’t leave them feeling frustrated. To that end, describe what’s in the picture as it appears.

For example, if you’ve uploaded a picture of your dog in front of your apartment door, the alt text should read, “My dog sitting in front of my apartment door”. Don’t focus on unimportant details like the color of the sky or the nosy neighbor in the background.

Make Your Instagram Account Inclusive

Few creators consider making their Instagram accounts inclusive. Make yours appealing to a larger audience by adding alt text to your images.

For all you know, your post could be the first one that a visually impaired person comes across in their day. It could be the difference between them staying on the app and exiting it out of frustration.

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