Widening the reach of my post: Accessibility and inclusion

As part of the Springer Nature family, the Ecology and Evolution Community is proud to play an active role in promoting and celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion across all areas of research. Below you will find some tips to help you ensure your blog post is accessible to all Community members.

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Writing your post

It’s common to use headings and subheadings to break up a blog post into different areas. Rather than simply making the text bold, be sure to use ‘heading elements’ to introduce a new concept or focus. Heading elements allow Community members who use a screen reader to easily navigate and follow the narrative of your post.

Once you have added text to your post, you can create a heading by:

    1. Selecting the text that you want to turn into one of your headings
    2. Removing any formatting (bold, italics, underlines etc.)
    3. Selecting the heading of your choice from the format dropdown menu   

The post creation page with the headings tab selected and options for paragraph and heading formats displayed in a drop down menu

    You can use multiple heading levels for subsections within your blog post. Heading levels should be sequential though, with the order descending based on the level of content. For example, Heading 4 should not appear before the first Heading 3.

    Using lists

    Two icons showing a bullet point list (left) and a numbered list (right)

    If you need to create a list, ensure that you use bullet points or numbered lists rather than manually creating lists using paragraphs, as this can make it difficult to follow for other Community members who use a screen reader. You can create a list by selecting either the ‘numbered list’ or ‘bullet point list’ icons (shown right).

    Adding images

    Icon of a mountain and sun to demonstrate adding an image to a post

    Images are a great way of bringing research to life and encouraging readers to engage with your blog post, but it is important that they can be enjoyed by all users. To add an image to your post, click on the image icon at the top of the page (shown on the right).

    This will open an ‘Insert/Edit Image’ Window that allows you to upload your chosen image.

    The insert/Edit image window showing where an alternative description and caption can be added to images.

    You should ensure that all images included in your post have a caption and/or ‘alternative description’ that describes visual content of the image. If a caption does not describe the meaning conveyed by the image, then it is best to also include an ‘alternative description’. This description is read by screen readers, so blind and visually impaired Community members are able to know what is on their screen. 

    The alternative description should describe the image itself, and isn’t the place to add additional information. In general, it is best to avoid using images that include text but, if this is unavoidable, ensure that any text is also included in the alternative description. You can find out more about how to write good alternative descriptions by visiting this page from Harvard University.

    Adding a video

    If you are including a video in your post, you can either upload the video as a video post, or embed a video that is hosted on another site, such as YouTube or Vimeo. Whichever way you choose to add your video, you should make sure that it includes captions or a clear alternative description if the video does not contain audio. Captions are essential for deaf and hard of hearing Community members and viewers who have difficulty processing auditory information. Captions can also be extremely valuable to anyone who does not share the native language of the video. Whilst captions are preferable, if you are unable to add captions to a video you should aim to include a transcript.

    To ensure the video is accessible to for blind and visually impaired Community members, it is important that the narration of a video includes all visual information. For example, this could include asking speakers to introduce themselves verbally as well as having their name and role displayed on screen. If it is not possible to include all visual information in the video itself, then you could create an additional audio track with audio description.

    Adding graphs and tables

    Graphs and charts typically cannot be read by a screen reader, so visually impaired Community members may miss out on this information. If you are including a graph in your blog post, use the alternative text to describe the image or, when applicable, provide source data in a table instead. 

    An icon depicting a table

    Tables should be created in the post using the ‘table’ icon (shown right). Don’t insert an image or screen-grab of a table, as the table cannot be adequately described using the alternative description. 

    Once you’ve created your table, you should also add a caption to describe the kind of information contained within the table.    

    Including links

    On the Communities, web links can be added into the text to allow users to find out more through other web pages, both within and outside the Community. You can do this by selecting the text you would like to add the link to, and selecting the ‘link’ icon from the menu that appears or the menu above. You can then paste the URL of the page you would like to link to into the relevant field. 

    The content creation panel showing the sentence 'How to add a link' with the options to add a link to this sentence depicted by a link icon and highlighted by a blue line.

    Some users navigate the Communities using a list of all buttons and links, so try to avoid adding a link to a single world and always aim to provide additional context to help readers understand what the link is for. For example, avoid using a phrase like ‘click here’ and instead describe where the link will take the viewer. You should also not reuse the same label for different links that will take the reader to a different place. Instead, aim to use different descriptions for each link.

    Promoting your post

    We would definitely encourage you to share your post with your networks through social media. When you use hashtags, be sure to capitalise the first letter of each word in your hashtag. For example, use #NaturePortfolioCommunities and not #natureportfoliocommunities. Capitalising the first letter of each word means that screen-reading software reads out each word separately, making it much easier to follow.


    If you have any questions, or any suggestions for how we can further improve the accessibility of the  Community, please get in touch with the team.

    If you would like to find out more about Springer Nature’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, please visit our website. 

    Ecology & Evolution Community

    Community Support, Springer Nature