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The internet is super visual. Platforms like Instagram have become central to how we communicate but posting a photo can also be inherently inaccessible, unless we are aware of how to be intentionally inclusive. Alternative text or “alt text” helps to describe and convey the purpose of an image, including pictures, illustrations, charts, etc. Adding alt text helps to ensure content is accessible to people who may not see the image. For example, screen reader users will leverage alt text to hear image descriptions read aloud; and people who have turned off images to speed download or save bandwidth can benefit from alt text as well. By adding alt text to your images, your content becomes more accessible and inclusive.

Although Instagram–a primarily visual platform–uses object recognition technology to automatically generate a description of photos for screen readers, we encourage the habit of writing the alt text yourself whenever you post to add better context and “colour” to your descriptions.

Below is a step by step guide to adding alt text to your Instagram photos.

1. Take or upload a photo to Instagram. Choose a filter and edit the image then click Next.

An image of a white coffee mug being uploaded on Instagram. On the top right the button "Next" is encricled.

2. Tap Advanced Settings then Write Alt Text

A screenshot the Instagram preview page. There are different options and at the option there is a link "Advanced Settings" which is encircled.
A screenshot of the Advanced Settings page for an Instagram post. One of the options is Accessibility and there is a link "Write Alt Text" which is encircled.

3. Write your alt text in the box then tap Done (iOS) or Save (Android). Note that the alt text is not a “copy and paste” of your Instagram caption. The alt text is used to describe exactly what is depicted in your photo. Write what’s important for people to know about the photo and what you want your followers to focus on.

To edit alt text for a photo you’ve already posted on Instagram:

1. Go to the photo you wish to edit, and tap the three dots on the top right corner  (iOS) or  (Android) then select Edit from the menu.

2. Tap Edit Alt Text

A screenshot of an already posted photo (the white coffee mug) on Instagram being edited. At the bottom right there is a link to "Edit Alt Text" and it is encircled.

2. Write or edit the alt text in the box. If you have a carousel, you will be able to see all of the images in that post and write the alt text for each in one page. Tap Done (iOS) or   (Android).

A screenshot of the Edit Alt Text page on Instagram. There is a thumbnail of the image (the white coffee mug) and next to it is the alt text box that's already filled in with the description. At the top right there is a check mark (Android) and it is encircled.

Best practices for writing alt text on Instagram:

  1. Do not copy your Instagram caption! 
  2. Describe your image, including what’s in it, and what it’s about.
  3. Keep your alt text screen reader-friendly at 125 characters or less.
  4. Get right into the description, forget “photo of” or “image of.”

Here are some helpful guides and resources on creating accessible content on social media:

If you need any help with writing alt text or image descriptions, please don’t hesitate to email us.