Instagram And TikTok Caption Tips You Need To Know
In May 2021, Instagram released the Captions Sticker feature for people to use on their Instagram stories, reels, and video DMs.
Since then, many people have used them to make their content more accessible, but how much more deaf friendly and accessible is their content when many of those people are formatting the captions incorrectly?
I’ve seen a lot of people make the font size the size of an ant while also making the font color the same as the t-shirt they’re wearing or the background they’ve placed the text over. Their placement choice often includes the bottom right or left hand corner where it’s usually covered by Instagram’s UI. This is the incorrect thing to do as both formats make the text unreadable.
I understand that people make these choices for aesthetic reasons, but the fact of the matter is, we’re using captions for accessibility, not to make things pretty.
Instagram content creators are not the only people to do this. This is a practice that is also done on TikTok, so I want to bring awareness to this issue and try to fix it for both platforms.
Here’s what you need to do instead:
Make the text a decent size.
Instagram doesn’t do number sizes so it’s hard to explain just how big or small it needs to be. But a general rule of thumb is if you have to squint your own eyes to read it, it’s too small.
Center your text, or put it above your head.
Do away with putting the ant sized text in the corner where it’ll be covered by the platform’s UI. You’ll want to put the text either over your head or under your chin. The chest area is usually preferred since that is where our eyes naturally lie and you want to see the face of the person you’re watching.
Off to the left or right hand side in the middle isn’t necessarily frowned upon, but just be mindful of UI placement and the other tips I’m sharing with you if you choose to do so.
Use a dark outline or color background bar.
This will depend on whether or not the look of the video itself is busy or not. If the video is just you with plain colored clothes and a plain background, you could get away with white text and a strong black outline.
If your video is more busy, I suggest using the color background bar if that is available in your app. (I know it isn’t available to everyone for some reason. It took months to become available to me.) A dark background provides better contrast than a simple outline does.
But use white on black, or black on white, or even yellow on black (as recently recommended by a DeafBlind friend) when using a background. Using a background uses more space which helps to create a stronger contrast.
One thing that’s worth noting is accessibility is not and will never be 100% accessible. What works for one deaf person may not work for another. What works for one blind person may not work for another. But I truly believe that these tips are worth sharing. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your viewers and try to build a consensus from there.
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