Using image descriptions in Instagram posts

PUBLISHED ON 2020-03-06 — A11Y, TECHNOLOGY

It’s pretty common knowledge now that you can set image descriptions on Twitter, but did you know that you can set them on your Instagram posts too? Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do it.

Let’s say I want to share a photo of my dog, Luna.

Photo of Luna, a labradoodle, laying on green grass and holding a stick that's almost three times her size.
Luna loves this giant stick

The first steps are the same as the usual Instagram process: I select a photo, apply a filter, and write a description. That takes me here:

Screenshot of Instagram's new post screen where an arrow is pointing to the Advanced Settings option
My prepared Instagram post

Before I hit “share”, I have to go into the “Advanced Settings” at the bottom of the app. That takes me to a menu of options, including “Write Alt Text”:

Screenshot of Instagram's Advanced settings screen where an arrow is pointing to the Write Alt Text option
Advanced settings screen

If I select that option, I’ll get a freeform box where I can write my image description:

Screenshot of Instagram's Alt Text entry screen where text has been entered
Alt-text entry screen

I wrote a quick snippet for my photo that describes what’s going on and what I’m emphasizing in my post (I’m calling attention that the “stick” is much larger than my dog). Once I save that, I can share my post!

Now that I’ve shared my captioned post, where is that alt-text used? By accessibility tools! Take a look in this video:

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