LinkedIn is a business and employment-focused social media platform that works through websites and mobile apps. It was launched on May 5, 2003, Linkedin’s revenue was $15 billion in 2023, it’s also part of Microsoft.
- Strip out fancy fonts (𝒻𝑜𝓃𝓉𝓈)
- Automatically add capital letters to #HashTags
- ❌ Warn about overuse of emojis and for bullet point use
- Replace links converted to short LinkedIn URLs, to meaningful text with links
- Warn about UPPERCASE text
One of the biggest problems of user generated content on social media is that it can be deeply inaccessible. Often users are given an empty-text-field to post content, they can do what they like.
People can offer guides, training, workshops, and even call out inaccessible content. However, this bottom up approach is not only ineffective it also shifts responsibility from the platform to the user.
Users can often be left policing each other, educating each other, however actually it is Linkedin’s job to do this work. It’s their role to make sure their publishing tools prevent accessibility issues before they happen.
5 defects that LinkedIn could resolve to make content more accessible
1. Strip out fancy fonts
I’m not sure when this happened but fancy fonts became a trend. Linkedin could add features to block posts from being published when it detects the fonts. Alternately it could strip them out automatically.
A screen reader allows people who are blind or visually impaired to use their computer. Below are three sentence in fancy fonts that are ignored by screen readers:
- 𝒯𝒽𝑒𝓈𝑒 𝒻𝑜𝓃𝓉𝓈 𝒶𝓇𝑒 𝒾𝑔𝓃𝑜𝓇𝑒𝒹 𝒷𝓎 𝓈𝒸𝓇𝑒𝑒𝓃 𝓇𝑒𝒶𝒹𝑒𝓇𝓈
- 𝕋𝕙𝕖𝕤𝕖 𝕗𝕠𝕟𝕥𝕤 𝕒𝕣𝕖 𝕚𝕘𝕟𝕠𝕣𝕖𝕕 𝕓𝕪 𝕤𝕔𝕣𝕖𝕖𝕟 𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕖𝕣𝕤
- ᵀʰᵉˢᵉ ᶠᵒⁿᵗˢ ᵃʳᵉ ⁱᵍⁿᵒʳᵉᵈ ᵇʸ ˢᶜʳᵉᵉⁿ ʳᵉᵃᵈᵉʳˢ
2. Automatically add capital letters to #HashTags
#HashTag is more accessible that #hashtag. Why’s that? One, it’s more readable visually so users with cognitive issues like dyslexia benefit. Secondly, for screen readers it gets read out as two different words.
At the moment this is a manual process by individuals, there’s no reason why LinkedIn couldn’t make this process automatic (while also giving an override feature).
Technically the more accessible style is called pascal case, camel case or upper camel case.
3. Warn about overuse of emojis
There seems to be a big trend to use emojis as bullet points.
While some users with cognitive issues might find the visual nature helpful, Current guidance, especially for screen-readers users, is that this trend is not accessible.
LinkedIn could offer warnings to re-consider or reduce this use. It could offer links to articles the outline how a screen-reader announces it. Screen readers typically announce bullet points as “list, X items” whereas with this trend it will announce the emoji: “straight mouth-face with one raised eyebrow” then the content.
There is an example of this mis-use below:
- 🤨 The Emoji
- 🚄 Bullet point trend
- ❌ Not great for accessibility
The video below has a demonstration of a screen reader reading emoji bullet points.
4. Replace links converted to short LinkedIn URLs, to meaningful text with links
At the moment LinkedIn uses their own method to change a link to a short URL that is then tracked by LinkedIn. The problem with that is it impacts WCAG 2.4.4 link in context.
Typically, how it should work is that the text of the link is descriptive and relevant. For example this is a link to Google. A screen reader will announce: “link, Google” this indicates to the user there is a link and it goes somewhere called “Google.”
However on Linkedin posts, a user sees something like “http://lnkd.in/tr4ck3ing”. What the user hears instead is “link, h-t-t-p-colon-slash-slash…”
Linkedin should change this feature, to allow linking like it’s always been done on the web. Allow a user to provide the text and provide the underlying link. They can also append the link with tracking details so exsisting functionality is not lost.
5. Warn about UPPERCASE text
SOMETIMES USERS WANT TO POST SHOUTING CONTENT. Again, LinkedIn could provide a warning to create some friction so that users consider if they actually want to include uppercase text. Readability is reduced with all caps because all words have a uniform rectangular shape, meaning readers can’t identify words by their shape.
These are just 5 defects that would go a long way to making LinkedIn more accessible and doesn’t even touch upon media like images, and video.
Some ideas LinkedIn could prioritise to prevent accessibility issues.
This post was originally named: 5 features LinkedIn could add to make content more accessible. However actually, these are not features. These are bugs, defects that lead to accessibility problems. I felt re-framing this was important.