Make Your Hashtags Accessible

February 5, 2019

Hashtags may be one of the best ways to reach new audiences on social media, letting people who don't yet know about you or your company find you quickly. But how can you make hashtags more accessible so that the people you reach can easily interpret them?

Capitalize the first letter of each word in your hashtag

Hashtags are often a combination of multiple words and they must be constructed without spaces. Most people will leave all the letters of each word lowercase, something like #digitalaccessibilitynow. For some people, it doesn't take too much effort to recognize the patterns in words and decipher the phrase, understanding where one word ends and another begins. For others, for any number of reasons, this isn't as easy.

To make your hashtags more accessible, capitalize the first letter of each word (sometimes called "camel case" or "camel backing").

Friendlier for screen readers

Screen readers allow people who can't see or can't easily see the words on a screen to understand the content by interpreting it and using synthesized speech to communicate it aloud. Because there are no spaces between words in a hashtag, screen readers aren't given the cue that there are multiple words present — instead, they'll usually try to read the phrase as one long word. However, when the first letter of each word is capitalized, screen readers now have the indication they need and are much more likely to read the hashtag as intended.

Friendlier for people with dyslexia or cognitive disabilities

Difficulty quickly understanding hashtags isn't unique to people who are blind or visually-impaired. For anybody who may experience challenges instantly identifying the patterns that make up words and the relationships between those words, capitalizing the first letter of each word is also a huge benefit. We are taught to read and recognize words and letters a certain way, with spacing or other obvious indicators to help us out. Without those cues, many are excluded from the conversation, undermining the wide-spread intention of the hashtag.

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