How To Make Your Instagram Accessible For Visually Impaired Community

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You’re posting on Instagram all of the time as part of your business marking plan and I know that you have seen the “ALT  text” when you are loading a photo. You’ve probably blown right past it when you are posting because why would you even bother, as far as you know Instagram does not offer SEO so what’s the point?

Instagram introduced the ability to add ALT text to photos in an effort to make the platform more accessible. Users can add their own custom ALT text that can be read by screen readers to assist those with visual impairments.

Right now, you’re thinking, “This is awesome, how do we use this feature professionally and assist those with visual impairments? “

The ALT text is NOT meant to be a  “copy and paste” of your Instagram caption. Instead, the ALT text should be used to describe exactly what is in your photo.

Think about it, Instagram is a VISUAL platform, and we certainly are not describing the photo in our caption. We are instead,  writing our marketing copy, sharing a quote or a story. The caption is the part screen readers are able to assist the users with, however, the user is missing out on the visual that accompanies it if you are not writing your own  ALT text.

Instagram wants everyone in the community to be able to interact with each other, including those with visual impairments. Keep this in mind, if you are not adding your own ALT text, know that Instagram will automatically generate  ALT text to your photo using their own technology. Their image recognition technology will scan your photo and write an ALT text for you. I encourage you to begin getting in the habit of writing your own ALT text before you post because the Instagram generated text is pretty generic.


The ALT text is your way of giving the user a full Instagram experience by understanding the complete context of both the photo and the caption. As a business owner,  you are now making your content, your product and yourself accessible to more people in the community. How awesome is that?!

An item to note: It is strongly recommended that ALT text be 125 characters or less to ensure compatibility for popular screen readers. The character limit for the ALT text on Instagram is 100 characters.

While researching and at the time of this publishing I did not find any solid evidence one way or the other that by also using the ALT text could mean that there is some sort of SEO associated with it on Instagram just yet. However, I have to believe that this is in the works if it does not already exist on at least a BETA level.  ALT text on images when using it on your website we know helps your SEO ranking on Google, which has me thinking that perhaps something like this is coming or again already exists to some level on Instagram.

How To Add ALT Text To A New Post:

  1. Upload your image as usual.

  2. On the Instagram caption page, press “Advanced settings”:

  3. Click “Write ALT text”: On Instagram you can write a maximum of 100 characters to describe what is in your photo.

  4. Write your ALT text and press “Done”


How To Add ALT Text To Your Old Photos:

You are able to and I encourage you to take the time to do so.

1. Select the photo you want to add ALT text to:

2. Click on the 3 dots “…” in the upper right-hand corner:

3. Choose “Edit”:

4. Press “Add ALT text”:

5. Write your ALT text:

6. Click “DONE”

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Tips on how to write ALT text from Perkins School for the Blind:

  1. Describe the image as specifically as you can.

  2. “Imagine someone is sitting next to you as you scroll through Instagram and they point at a photo and ask what it is. Chances are, you’ll give them a one or two sentence description that is perfect for writing as alt text” ( Perkins School for the Blind).

  3. Is there an important text on your photo (like signage or quote)? Write out the text.

  4. Keep your ALT text (relatively) short, 100 character limit on Instagram and 125 character limit on popular screen readers.

  5. Write who is on the picture (especially if you have a personal account). For example: “Jade sitting on her computer with a latte next to her.”

  6. Colors: “Don’t be afraid to share what colors are in a photo, if the color is important. A photo can be described as being in black-and-white, having warm or cool colors, or being tinted a certain color. Someone wearing clothes that are the main focus of the photo can write that they are wearing “dark denim Levi’s with a white t-shirt, Adidas sneakers with green earrings.”