To better accommodate users who rely on screen readers, Twitter is increasing the availability of an opt-in feature. The social media platform is launching a reminder to include descriptions with uploaded photos. In July, Twitter began testing the feature with 10% of users before making it available to all users.
Image descriptions, also known as alt text, explain what’s going on in an image to people who use screen readers but are blind or have low vision. It’s a method for making sure everyone can take part in discussions. Screen reader users will be unable to view images shared on Twitter without accompanying alt text.
Not only does Twitter recommend including alt text for users who rely on screen readers, but also for those who live in areas with low bandwidth, use web phones, or simply want more information about an image.
If you go into your settings, select “Accessibility,” and then tap the “Receive image description reminder” option, you will begin receiving the new reminders. The feature, once activated, will send a web and mobile prompt to users before they tweet an image, reminding them to include alt text. To make sure your content is accessible to everyone, the feature encourages you to add alt text to any and all images you upload to the service.
The social media platform recommends keeping alt text brief and neutral. You could say something like, “a empty beach at sunset with red, orange, purple, and blue colours in a cloudless sky” if you were to upload a picture of a beach. The foreground features a grove of palm trees.
When an image’s description is available, it will be uploaded with a “ALT” badge in the corner of the lower left to indicate this. Twitter also translates the text accompanying images to make them accessible to users in other languages.
Twitter has recently released the alt text reminders alongside the closed caption toggle for all users on iOS and Android. When a video has closed captions, the CC toggle will appear in the top right corner of the player. The captions can be toggled on and off with a single tap. After launching automatically generated captions on videos in December 2017, Twitter added the toggle to better accommodate users who are deaf or hard of hearing.