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Instagram Launches Updates to Improve App Experience for Visually Impaired Users


Instagram has continued to grow in popularity since it was first launched by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010. Some estimates put the number of worldwide users at 1.2 billion by 2023. While 62% of users on Instagram log in at least once per day, the issue of accessibility has continued to haunt the platform. It’s one area that Instagram says they are still working to effectively solve.

The latest rollout of improvements aims to improve the Instagram experience for visually impaired users, who tend to use screen reader features. Over the last few years, Instagram has used object recognition technology to add alternative text to all uploaded photos. With this latest functionality, they’re taking accessibility beyond those “first steps.” Here’s what the changes will mean.

Redefining Simplicity

To ensure the greatest level of simplicity possible, Instagram used TalkBack to test the feeds, and they learned from the experience. So, one of the key evolutions with the latest iteration of Instagram involves simplicity. The Accessibility Team has simplified the process and layout of the User Interface with the goal of supporting the ability of visually impaired users to get a better sense of the updates as they move through the feed.

Getting Labels Right

Beyond Instagram’s new focus on simplicity, they also worked on getting the labels right. It was not only a matter of checking to make sure that the labels on each post and the aggregate labels were fixed. They also checked the hierarchical order of information to make sure that visually impaired users could more easily control access and engage with compelling posts.

Grouping UI Elements

With the new focus for screen-reader users, the Accessibility team moved the post actions like “Comment,” “Send,” and “Save,” to a bottom sheet. The goal of the change is to allow a visually impaired user to access custom actions more easily via mobile devices while supporting an easy return to individual UI elements with a double-tap.

So, users can easily navigate between posts, but also drill down into a single post. While this action may not seem significant, visually impaired users can accomplish actions more easily, with fewer gestures. With fewer gestures required to scroll through the feed, it’s now faster and easier to explore Instagram as a visually impaired user.

Why Is Accessibility Important?

With so many users currently accessing Instagram daily, it’s important for the platform to be as accessible as possible. As a visual platform, accessibility concerns for visually impaired users have been ongoing, particularly since the World Health Organization estimates that 285 million people have impaired vision around the world.

In the US alone, there are seven million Americans who are visually impaired. With Instagram ranking as the #3 most used social media platform in the world, it’s important that it is as accessible as possible. As a marketer, it’s also important for you to understand the latest accessibility features of the social media platforms you use to target your audience. Adding accessibility features can support access to your products and services by new audiences you’ve never considered until now.

Find Out How Fifth & Cor Can Level Up Your Marketing Strategy

At Fifth & Cor, our marketing focus is on “connecting people through digital experiences.” We help you engage with the right audience through our comprehensive digital media strategy, but we also deliver the content you need for your brand experience. We’re pros when it comes to storytelling, influencer marketing, and social media advertising, but we also help you keep tabs on the latest innovations in technology to make sure your brand experience is appropriately represented on all platforms.

We help you build meaningful relationships with your customers, but we also help you increase awareness and brand-centric advocacy in the areas that matter the most, including accessibility concerns. We’re committed to your success, and we’re dedicated to ensuring every message represents your brands to ensure the right user experience, with creativity, attention to detail, and clear communication.

Learn how Fifth & Cor can implement an innovative marketing strategy for your brand.

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