Pinterest, one of the most visual social media platforms, is also considered pretty accessible by many. Pinterest features elements such as alt text, a balanced color palette, and advanced screen reader capabilities, making the platform accessible by people who are blind or have visual or other disabilities.
Some may assume that people who are blind or have visual disabilities won’t use Pinterest because of its imagery-based content. This line of thinking, similar to the myth that people who are blind simply don’t use computers, is incorrect. As the fourth most popular social media platform in America, with 77.4 million monthly users, it must be realized that there are Pinners who are blind or have other disabilities that impact the way they use the web.
Making matters even more pertinent, in April, Pinterest went public and is now traded on the New York Stock Exchange. If revenues and users grow at a faster rate, the platform’s influence may also expand, meaning that creating accessible Pinterest content is more important now than ever.
What Pinterest has done to improve accessibility — and why
Pinterest is quickly growing into one of the web’s most popular social media platforms. With nearly 25% of the American adult population using Pinterest annually (up 7% from 2017), the platform serves as a forum for creative exchange and advertising, nationally and worldwide.
The company’s mission is to “help you discover and do what you love.” In Spring 2018, they announced a campaign to become more accessible for people with visual disabilities, helping expand and fulfill this mission.
According to the American Federation for the Blind, the “very nature of Pinterest makes it difficult to use [for the visually impaired].” Screens that refresh often confuse screen readers; webpage images are hard to decipher; and its information-heavy design makes it more likely to be tedious using screen readers.
Pinterest must have agreed, because, last year, the company teamed up with Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired to research how to improve the app. "After talking to Pinners and finding out how Pinterest was (and wasn’t) working for them, we did an accessibility audit and created a list of areas to improve," says Pinterest's press statement.
Here are a few enhancements they’ve made since last spring to improve accessibility:
- Improved color contrast. Pinterest revised its color palette, making it more readable for people who are sensitive to bright colors or who have low vision. Text is also easier to read against some of the updated colors.
- Improved screen reader experience."Better screen reader support makes signing up, browsing and saving easier and more usable."
- Clear focus indicators. Pinterest created clearer focus indicators to help people using a keyboard or other devices navigate to see which part of the site is in focus.
- SVGs instead of PNGs. This helps icons and UI components stay clear and sharp when Pinners zoom content. It helps enable people with low vision to use the zoom feature without compromising quality.
- Text size and type. You can now adjust font sizes to your preference, and select different bold types, making text easier to read.
The company has also made accessibility a priority for engineers and developers. They’ve created a new UI library with accessible components, and have implemented accessibility checks, which will be applied to all new features in the future.
How You Can Create More Accessible Pinterest Content
Since Pinterest’s content comes from its users, knowing some accessibility tips and tricks can be very helpful. Here are some elements to prioritize to create accessible Pinterest content:
- Color contrast of images that contain text. Although you mat want to keep images of text on your pin to a minimum, when you do use text, check its contrast against your image’s background. Is it easily readable? Or does it blend in with the background? Also check that the contrast seems balanced, and that the colors are not too bright or extreme.
- Text size. When using text, utilize larger, bolder type fonts. Aim for the top or the middle of your pin so that it’s easier to locate.
- Include alt text. For web images pinned to Pinterest, the alt text is pulled as the default caption. Including it ensures screen readers can interpret the image’s content for people who are blind or visually impaired.
- Image size and quality. The larger, the better! You’ll want to use images that are at least 600 pixels wide, to align with Pinterest’s preferred 2:3 ratio. Also be sure to analyze the quality of your imagery. Is it in focus? Do people have to strain to make out what’s in it?
- Consider your linked site. Is the content on the website you’re linking to also accessible? Use these points as a checklist and make modifications if possible. If not, are there other sites you can link to instead?
Looking for tips for creating accessible content on other social networks?
Here are a few to check out:
- Twitter Accessibility Tips
- Instagram Now Uses Artificial Intelligence for Alt Text
- A Guide to Facebook Closed Captioning for Accessibility
- YouTube Closed Captioning for Accessibility: Why and How
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